Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Saint Mary’s Gifts for Winona grateful for Winona’s generosity

This year two precious little children slept in a car while we painstakingly tucked brand new bicycles in the back of their vehicle — careful not to ruin their Christmas surprises.

One senior exclaimed with joy that he was headed for the grocery store to buy some food with his new grocery card. Yet another quietly and emotionally walked out the door, tears in her eyes, after receiving a bag of gifts for her family.

Thousands of packages were wrapped with love this year for the Saint Mary’s University Gifts for Winona community gift-giving program. Carload after carload overflowed with brightly colored paper and bags. Once again, we were overwhelmed by the anonymous generosity of this community, and we humbly thank you for graciously sharing your blessings.

The Saint Mary’s University Gifts for Winona program, in its 10th year, was once again able to provide gifts for our less fortunate neighbors because of you.

More than 1,600 individuals and families were helped this year, which is considerably higher than last year.

Though you never heard the abundant thank-yous and saw the genuine smiles, I hope you know how much the new toys, clothing and grocery gift cards you purchased mean to these families.

Because of you, these families have been given presents for their trees and hope in their hearts. For the 10th year in a row, our community has made sure that everyone who registered received something special for the holidays.

As we count our blessings for the past and upcoming years, we should also remember those less fortunate whose material blessings are a little harder to come by this year. We hope and pray that 2012 will have many wonderful things in store for these families.

The Saint Mary’s University Gifts for Winona volunteers extend an extra special thanks to all of you, including:

• the program’s additional partners, Winona Radio, Winona Post, Wells Fargo and Winona Volunteer Services;
• the many shoppers, wrappers, data-entry volunteers, sorters and organizers, including many Saint Mary’s students, who put in long hours without complaint;
• the many sponsoring businesses, schools, churches and organizations who helped groups of 10 or more;
• every individual who took a tag off a tree or donated money;
• the Slaggie Family Foundation, Fleet Farm, Cornerstone Community Church, and Steve and Regina Craney for generous donations; and our friends at Cars & Credit who always make sure there are no tags left;
• the Winona Public Library, Walmart, the three Severson-Sinclair stations, the Winona Post and Security State Bank for sponsoring giving trees;
• referral agencies who provided support;
• the staff and patrons of the Valéncia Arts Center for allowing us to take over the building for one of the gift distributions, and Frances Passe at the Resource Center in St. Charles for helping to distribute gifts;
• and the area media for helping spread the word about this program.

We continue to be very blessed to be part of such a caring community.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

SMU Jazz Workshop Combos to perform free concert Dec. 18

WINONA, Minn. — Two jazz workshop combos from Saint Mary’s University Music Department will present a free concert from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 18, at the Acoustic Café, 77 Lafayette St. Included will be the “Lucky 7” Jazz Combo, directed by Eric Heukeshoven and the “Heavy Metal Jazz Combo,” directed by John Paulson. The free concert will feature student musicians who have been playing together all semester, and it will serve as their “final exam.” They’ll be playing well-know jazz standards by composers like Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and Miles Davis, as well as some unique hybrid arrangements of popular jazz tunes blended with familiar Christmas tunes by Heukeshoven.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Saint Mary’s Gifts for Winona due Wednesday, Dec. 14

WINONA, Minn. — The deadline is fast approaching to return gifts to the Saint Mary’s University Gifts for Winona giving trees. Because the community distribution is early, gifts MUST be returned to giving trees by Wednesday, Dec. 14!

Those individuals who have already taken tags should return their packages (with tags securely fastened) to the tree where they got the tag. Trees are located at the Winona Public Library, the three Severson-Sinclair locations, the Winona Post, Walmart and Security State Bank in Lewiston. Donors are asked to spend about $30 per person.

If you got a tag from a church or different organization, check your tag for the date your gifts are to be returned and other instructions.

To ensure that the large number of gifts may be properly sorted and recorded, meeting the deadline is a priority.

Because of the overwhelming generosity of the Winona community, tags may no longer be available. Tax-deductible contributions can also be made out to Saint Mary’s University Gifts for Winona and sent to 700 Terrace Heights #8, Winona, Minn., 55987.

Several community partners including the Winona Post, Wells-Fargo, Winona Radio and Winona Volunteer Services join Saint Mary’s University in helping to make this program a success.

Monday, December 05, 2011

SMU Cardinals hosting second Toys For Tots Teddy Bear Toss

WINONA, Minn. — The Saint Mary’s University men’s hockey team will hold the second Toys For Tots Teddy Bear Toss this Friday, Dec. 9, during the Cardinals’ 7:30 p.m. home game against Marian University at the SMU Ice Arena.

Fans attending are encouraged to bring a teddy bear or stuffed animal — preferably new, but those in good used condition will also be accepted and appreciated. Teddy bears will also be available at the arena for a donation of $1.

After the first SMU goal in the first period — or at the end of the first period — fans will have an opportunity to throw their teddy bears and/or stuffed animals onto the ice. They will then be collected and distributed to children in the Winona area through the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots Foundation.

The U.S. Marine Corps Toys For Tots Foundation was formed to collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year and then distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to needy children in their local communities. The program is aimed at helping needy children throughout the United States of America experience the joy of Christmas along with the message of hope to these under-privileged children to motivate them into being responsible, productive, patriotic citizens and community leaders.