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’Tis the season for giving

Posted 11/28/12 (Wed)

By Kate Ruggles
Farmer Staff Writer

The McKenzie County Social Services Giving Tree is traditionally set up in the lobby of the Watford City Post Office. Due to a shrinking, and often crowded lobby, and the area’s increased needs, there will be two trees this year and they will be placed in two separate, new locations.
“So many different needs are presented to our office these days. We do our best to find a funding source, but we are not always able to,” states Stacy Arnegard, McKenzie County Social Services social worker. “That is where the Giving Tree comes in.”
According to Arnegard, the tree people are used to seeing, the traditional tree which gives the specific age of the recipient, is set up inside McKenzie County Bank.
The other tree represents miscellaneous needs in McKenzie County and is located inside Dakota West Credit Union.
“Anything from hats and gloves, diapers, games and duffel bags will be on that tree,” states Arnegard. “Both trees are up as of this week and there are instructions by the tree. The tag has instructions as to what type of gift to purchase and there is a sign that tells people where to bring the gifts.”
Arnegard states that unwrapped gifts, along with their tags, need to be brought to McKenzie County Social Services, which is located inside the McKenzie County Courthouse building.
Another place that comes in contact with community needs is the McKenzie County Extension Office.
According to Marcia Hellandsaas, an Extension agent, the McKenzie County Food Pantry, which is open twice a month to provide food for low-income families, is always in need of monetary donations and volunteers.
“We need volunteers to help unload the food trucks and to serve people in the Food Pantry,” states Hellandsaas.
The Food Pantry does not accept donations of food, but money can be donated in care of the McKenzie County Extension Office.
“There are so many needs in our community right now,” states Hellandsaas. “One way people can get involved is through our Community Coalition and the 4-H programs.”
The Community Coalition is a partnership between community members, local law enforcement and the clergy. Its primary goal is to provide community education regarding drugs and alcohol, but Hellandsaas states that it has been addressing more and more issues that have begun impacting the McKenzie County area.
“Drugs and alcohol are starting to become a bigger issue in McKenzie County, as well as prescription drug use,” states Hellandsaas. “Not only that, but we have started dealing with topics of community and neighborhood safety as well as parenting.”
Hellandsaas states that they will begin a new round of classes that focus on parenting in January. Hellandsaas encourages anyone who is interested in these community issues to get involved in the coalition.
The 4-H clubs are another way to make an impact in the community through mentoring and leading area young people.
“We could always use volunteers interested in leading kids in the clubs and helping them develop skills and abilities,” states Hellandsaas. “Also, with all the things going on in the community, there is a need for people to lead area kids in doing community service projects.”
Christmas is a busy time, but both Hellandsaas and Arnegard state that the holidays can make being in need more stressful. They both run across situations where people don’t have a job or a place to live, or maybe they have a job, but their rent is very high and they need help.
Anyone interested in donating money or volunteering their time can pick up a tag from the Giving Tree or contact the McKenzie County Social Services Office or the McKenzie County Extension Office.