Opportunities for charitable holiday giving

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Sarah Meyer, GMHC Ambulatory Quality Manager, reminds co-workers, patients, and visitors to "Always be kind." (Photo submitted)

By Caroline Rosacker 

The selfless, giving nature of Santa Claus is imprinted on our lives at a very early age. Our vision of a kind-hearted, jolly old soul who willingly gives gifts to individuals he has never met  plants the seeds of generosity that help us to become charitable adults. When we give thanks for all that we have, the true spirit of the holiday season awakens within us a desire to lend a helping hand to those in need. There is remarkable power in the act of generosity — for both the giver and receiver. It brings people together, helps us dissolve our differences, and acknowledges our shared humanity.

The following is a description of Clayton County relief organizations that offer several opportunities for giving. This holiday season please consider making a humanitarian donation to help out your neighbor. Monetary gifts of any amount or volunteer services to assist with programming are graciously accepted. 

Family Resource Center

The Family Resource Center (FRC), located at 514 South River Park Drive in Guttenberg is an affiliate of the Guttenberg Municipal Hospital & Clinics (GMHC).  The resource center provides the community with a space for agencies and groups to collaborate their resources to meet the needs of the community they serve.   

The center focuses on health and wellness, safety, food insecurity, transportation, housing and mental health and substance abuse. They offer a variety of programs designed to protect and support children and at-risk individuals and build upon family strengths. Services are voluntary and confidential. The Family Resource Center is open Monday – Thursday from 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. and Friday 8 a.m. –noon. For additional information call 563-252-3215.

FRC Food Pantry

The Family Resource Center Food Pantry offers volunteer/donation opportunities. The food pantry is available Monday and Wednesday from 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursday from 8 a.m. - 6 p.m. and Friday 8 a.m. - noon, or by appointment. The Resource Center's food pantry is a safety net during the month for families that either missed the mobile food pantry or need additional food to feed their families. "Our food pantry also includes household and hygiene items," said Kari Harbaugh, Family Resource Center Coordinator. "We offer curbside pick-up or delivery available on a weekly basis". 

The Food Pantry will also have Christmas food boxes available for those experiencing food insecurity. Organizers ask families to pick up only one per household. "The Family Resource Center collaborates on all GMHC projects. Hospital staff members will be assisting with food boxes for families' Christmas dinners," said Harbaugh. 

Winter coats and gear

As the temperature drops so does the need for proper winter attire. The Family Resource Center accepts new or gently used coats, hats, boots, socks and mittens.  Harbaugh commented, "We have coats and winter gear for families that are in need of these items. Call the office, and we can decide the best way to get items to those in need (school or pick up at FRC). If you know of individuals or families that could use some help or are in quarantine please call the office and we will try and find a way to help. We encourage families to call ahead prior to their arrival so items can be ready for pick up and delivery to their car if needed."

Winter clothing can also be dropped off at Peoples State Bank, 15 Goethe Street, Guttenberg. Donation deadline is Dec. 15 at this location. 

St. John's Mobile Food Pantry 

St. John's Lutheran Church hosts the Northeast Iowa Food Bank mobile food pantry on the third Monday of each month from 5 - 6:30 p.m. Volunteers are encouraged to call St. John's office for additional information. "Because of the pandemic, the mobile pantry is currently a drive-through event with volunteers loading food directly into client's vehicles," said a spokeswoman. "To receive food, clients must show a driver's license or current identification and be TEFAP (The Emergency Food Assistance Program) eligible. Income guidelines for TEFAP are available at the Family Resource Center or by calling St. John's office at 563-252-2355. 

Shepherd of the Hills

Shepherd of the Hills, located at 100 West Hill Street, St. Olaf, is a conference and cooperative ministry effort of Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) congregations in the northeast Iowa Synod. 

The agency is sponsoring their annual "Christmas 4 Kids" Holiday Gift Drive. The event is set for Dec. 7 and 8 at the St. Olaf Auditorium from 8-3 p.m. Shepherd of the Hills partners with "Toys for Tots" Dubuque chapter. Donations of unwrapped new toys, gifts, pajamas and clothing are requested for children under 18.  

Donations for the event may also be dropped off at Brown's Sales and Leasing, located at 202 south Highway 52 in Guttenberg. "It's Hard to believe it's that time of year to 'Fill The Box' for families in need!" said a spokesperson. "Bring in your donations now until Dec. 8th. Help us fill up the truck box, and make a child's holiday a fun one!" 

This year families will not be picking the items out themselves but scheduling a time slot to pick up a pre-packaged bag at St. Olaf. For additional information call 563-783-2409.

Clayton County Food Shelf

The Clayton County Food Shelf, also located at 100 West Hill Street, is a non-profit corporation committed to providing emergency food supplies to Clayton County residents in crisis. Food or cash donations are urgently needed to assist families facing food insecurity. The food shelf will offer a holiday meal that can be picked up at designated days of the week prior to Christmas. For additional information contact the Clayton County Food Shelf at (563) 783-7794 or (563) 379-2462 or e-mail claytoncountyfoodshelf@gmail.com.  

The Guttenberg Police Department

Each year the Guttenberg Police Department adopts a family or two and works directly with them to identify specific needs. For additional information call 563-252-3333 and leave a message. 

Please encourage those in need to contact these agencies for assistance. 

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