Operation Santa assists more than 135 families with community’s help

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Milo and Blaine Connor, of Milo’s Towing, stand with all of the toys they collected through community donations toward Operation Santa in Crawford County this holiday season. They were just one of many businesses and organizations that made the Rotary Club-led program a success once again in 2019.(Photo by Gary Howe)

By Correne Martin


Many helping hands and generous hearts came together for the 2019 Operation Santa in Crawford County, bringing Christmas to over 135 families in need, including more than 170 children, this holiday season.

Spearheaded by the Prairie du Chien Rotary Club for the second year, numerous businesses and organizations played a large part in this endeavor as well. Thanks to cash, gift, food and clothing donations, the families received basically everything needed to cook and serve a holiday meal, and they took home miscellaneous necessities, items of comfort, along with toys.

The meal package included a coupon for a ham at Mississippi Meats, potatoes, butter, bread, milk, eggs, vegetables and pies.

“Some of it was donated, and some was purchased with the funds we received,” stated Rotarian Sara Boxrucker, the key organizer for Operation Santa.

This year, the program offered hats and mittens to each family member, an assortment of personal hygiene products, in addition to toys, books, blankets, crafts, puzzles, etc., for infants and children up to 10 years old. All children over age 10 were given $25 in Chamber Bucks to be used throughout the community. 

“The majority of our blankets came from local donations such as Gundersen Health System, and the UW-Extension office,” Boxrucker said. 

Pillowcases were available for all recipients from The Pickett Fence quilt shop. Sara and her husband, Derrick, hosted a pajama drive party, which brought in over 105 pairs of pajamas from their friends, family and fellow Rotarians. 

“We purchased a lot of items at a great discount, including toilet paper, paper towels, dish soap and laundry soap, along with apples and potatoes, all from Zinkle’s Piggly Wiggly,” she added. 

The Prairie du Chien High School FFA donated oranges to Operation Santa. The Crawford County Dairy Producers donated a pound of butter per family. Funds were combined to purchase $25 Kwik Trip gas cards for the recipients, and Kwik Trip also offered discounts and coupons for milk, eggs and bread. 

Prairie Industries employees donated over $2,400 in cash, plus many toys. The Eagles Club Auxiliary had a fish fry, meat raffle, purse and basket raffles, from which over $1,800 was collected for the program. Milo’s Towing held numerous toy round-up events at various community locations, and ended up filling a flatbed trailer full of toys for the children in need.

“Milo gave a lot of his time and was a drop-off point in the community. Also, Cindy Spiker and her team at Pizza Hut were a great help during our Guest Server Night, when we made our match of reaching $1,000 in tip donations,” Boxrucker said. “Many other area clubs and organizations donated anywhere from $50 to $250 of toward our program.”

She continued, noting that Leisure Time also held a meat raffle, with all proceeds benefitting Operation Santa. PdC Dentistry donated a toothbrush for every recipient. Welter Family Dentistry gave toothpaste, and Dental Associates donated floss.  Prairie Sand and Gravel donated shampoo, conditioner and body wash for each family as well.

“We also had many community members reach out and do their own hat and mittens drives, socks and underwear drives, and gave generous donations to us to make this all possible,” Boxrucker noted. “We are very thankful and grateful for all of our community members who have volunteered time, money or products to this important event at Christmas time.”

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