Holiday gift shortage for longstanding Stillwater charity program

Hundreds of families in the East Metro could miss out on holiday gifts because of a shortage of sponsors for a longstanding holiday gift program.

The Community Thread Holiday Hope program has helped people in the Stillwater area for 52 years. They need a lot of sponsors in the next few days to make this year a good one.

The gifts wrapped at Community Thread make a huge difference to the families who end up bringing them home.

"Chances are good they weren't going to have a holiday," said Cathleen Hess, development and communications director for Community Thread.

The Holiday Hope program delivers gifts to people experiencing financial hardship, including children from Stillwater area schools, as well as Landfall, Oakdale, and Woodbury.

"That's the whole spirit of the holiday season," Hess said.

Recipients make wish lists, asking donors for anything from gift cards and toys to boots and winter coats.

"We match all of our participants up, and we make sure we get them exactly what they ask for," Hess said. "That is one of our goals."

As the pandemic wound down and inflation soared last year, the Community Thread Elf Squad matched almost 3,200 people with sponsors.

"Last year was a really big wake-up call," Hess said. "We were all surprised because there were numbers like we'd never seen before."

She says 2023 looks to be a year of even greater need, and they’re up against the clock to fill it. As of Nov. 29, they still needed gifts for about 330 families — more than 1,000 people.

"In previous years, we've always made it work," said Hess. "And I hope that this year is the same."

Cash donations are one of three ways to help by the deadline of Monday night.

You can volunteer to sponsor someone on the Community Thread website, here