Heartwarming celebrations of giving and appreciation of others are chicken soup for the soul, but unfortunately, are a luxury that not all members of the community can afford.
United Way of Dickinson is having multiple programs throughout the month of November that offer the Dickinson area community a chance to spread warmth and cheer to those locally who are in need.
It is a busy time for this ambitious local non profit, with over four different drives running simultaneously and three additional programs coming up— each with a separate mission and purpose in which to help provide local support.
United Way of Dickinson current operations are Cookies for a Cause, Menards Toy Drive, Angel Tree with the Dickinson Area Public Library, and the inaugural Aging Out Drive.
Event coming up for this month alone are Empty Bowls, Festival of Trees and The Giving Tree.
Nichole De Leon, the executive director at United Way of Dickinson, broke down each of these programs to help show the community the variety of ways to donate and to participate in these seasonal events and activities.
Cookie for a Cause began Oct. 14 and will continue until Jan. 6, 2020. It is a partnership with Players Bar and Grill where customers can make a $2 donation to United Way of Dickinson and will receive a gingerbread cookie that can be decorated and eaten. Because of the sponsorship of Players Sport Bar and Grill and Titan Energy Service, every $2 dollar donation will become $3.
Menards Toy Drive began Nov. 1 and will continue until Nov. 30, where at Menards, they will collect donations of toys, clothing or similar items. All donations will go towards helping local underprivileged children.
Angel Tree will also begin Nov. 1, but will continue until Dec. 13. This partnership with the Dickinson Area Public Library is for the community to buy and donate new books to local children in need of all ages. A percentage of all profit goes to the library’s children and teen services.
Aging Out Drive is a partnership with PATH, a local foster care non profit, to help out local foster children who are transitioning from adolescence to adulthood and leaving the agency.
“Once you turn 18, you are no longer apart of foster care; you're on your own,” De Leon said. “ When these kids age out, they need basic necessities that a lot of us take for granted. We came and brought things for two of (PATH’s) kids aging out and we realized that there is a big need for more stuff.”
De Leon also mentioned the amount of support needed for high school students who have no parental support and are on their own.
For this drive, there are collection boxes at both American Bank Centers, Dakota Community Bank North, Charbonneau Car Center and the AT&T store off 21st Street.
The Empty Bowls will be at the Ramada Grand Dakota Lodge during the Badlands Art Association Art Show, Nov. 9, from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Handcrafted bowls made by local artists will be for sale for $15 and will come with a soup, bread and a beverage.
“Empty Bowls is a reminder to our community that we have people who consider themselves lucky to have one bowl of soup a day … because they’re homeless or struggling to make ends meet,” De Leon said. “Many of the bowls are made by Dickinson State University students... Since this is our tenth year, we will have dessert items that have been donated by Cash Wise and Sweet Things Bakery.”
The event has been a community favorite in the past.
“It really is just like Black Friday when we open those doors; we are just inundated by people,” De Leon said. “It's amazing.”
The Festival of Trees, a free family event on Nov. 16, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. will include a decorated trees and wreaths viewing, silent auctions, live holiday music by Pitter Patter Music Club, and a special appearance from Santa Claus, who will take photos with children and then will pass out books to each child— with the help of his elves from Western Cooperative Credit Union.
“For people who miss one of our donation stations, this is a good event to go to. It's a family-fun event and everyone is welcome to bring something to donate, but we don't charge anything to come in,” De Leon said. “That does a service to our community while their having fun and there is going to be so much going on.”
Over 30 local companies are donating either a tree or wreath to the event that will go into a silent auction. Players Sports Bar & Grill will also be doing cookie decoration and Consolidated will do reindeer games and crafts, both of which are free.
The last drive of the month is The Giving Tree. This focuses on preteens and teens who can be forgotten in donations, with a lot of donations being for younger kids, like toys and clothing. Serendipity and United Way of Dickinson partnered to help ensure that these kids won't be left out. Serendipity will be taking donated gifts appropriate for teenagers and gift cards from Serendipity or from somewhere else.