In 2016, for the sixth year in a row, staff in REM North Dakota’s Devil Lake office decorated the office holiday tree not with lights and ornaments but with warm winter items such as hats, gloves, scarves and socks. The staff collected more than 70 items, which will be delivered to local elementary schools and donated to needy children.
Helping Kids Stay Safe and Warm
REM North Dakota’s holiday giving tradition began in 2011, when Melane Knutson, Area Director, learned from her grandchildren’s school teacher that students often lose their hats or a glove or their socks get wet while playing outside in the colder weather. The teacher explained that when this happens many children are forced to go without them because neither the school nor the families have the resources to buy a new winter item. Without these warm pieces of clothing, the children would not be safe from the elements and cannot play outside with their friends.
This conversation led Melane to rally her team at REM North Dakota to start a collection for the much-needed items.
“One employee suggested we decorate the office’s holiday tree with the items we collect, so we did,” said Melane.
A Holiday Tradition
Since then, REM North Dakota has collected items each holiday season from employees, past employees, Mentors, family members and members of the community.
“We wanted to make sure kids could play outside with their peers and stay safe and warm,” said Melane.