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Volunteers Make ‘Heroic Effort’ to Fill Sleds and Grant Wishes
The presents were layed under the Y tree with care.
Tuesday, December 22, 2020



They could have bagged it, deciding it was too difficult to come together to select and wrap Christmas presents for families in need given the COVID pandemic.

But the need was too great—in fact, greater than ever because of the COVID pandemic.

And, so, 95 volunteers came together in socially distanced fashion to purchase and wrap presents to fill gift sleds for 20 Wood River Valley families.

Other volunteers stepped up to answer 200 wishes requested by children in The Advocates’ program and hung on the Wood River YMCA’s Giving Tree. And children from the Y’s educational programs wrote and decorated holiday cards for those in hospice and palliative care, who have been shut off from others because of COVID.

“That’s a new program for us,” said the YMCA’s Executive Director Jason Shearer. “We had the kids write Christmas cards to those in hospice and palliative care after hearing how hard it’s been for them because they can’t have visitors during the pandemic. They told us they would be so happy just to have anyone communicate with them.”

 Normally, the Y has no problem getting people to take one or more tags asking for ski pants, boots, gloves and toys on the Y Christmas tree.

“But this year it was a challenge because, while people are coming into the Y, we have nowhere as many as we usually do,” said Shearer. “Fortunately, some people stepped up and took more than one tag and all of the tags were spoken for.”

And, while the Y has filled sleds for families in need before, this year the needs were more significant than ever, Shearer said.

“These families would have done Christmas without anything had it not been for this,” said Shearer.

Some sled teams assigned a father, mother or child to each team member, who purchased and wrapped gifts individually at home, bringing them to the Y to be incorporated onto the gift sled.

One of the sled teams managed to secure a large community room so members could wrap gifts in far-flung corners. They filled their sled with Vans shoes for the entire family, Pokemon cards, skateboards, Legos, a 45-pound sack of dog food, winter clothes, a bicycle and more.

“It was a heroic effort this year,” Shearer said.

Adrienne Leugers echoed his sentiments: “Many of the Y’s volunteers and supporters worked together to provide a bountiful Christmas for families living through extraordinary challenges, including loss and suffering. The families who receive the sleds are hard working, family-oriented, resilient and facing tough challenges. The surprise of the sled for their whole family gives them a deep sense of community, joy and hope.”


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