Gifts from the Heart
Annual Holiday Assistance Project is a Tradition at OPD
Each year, the Department and the University of Wisconsin Head Start pre-school program partner to provide holiday gifts to nearly 400 children and youth in the Oshkosh area. Head Start provides pre-school education and services at eight centers to children from income-eligible families throughout the Fox Valley area. Head Start Family Support Specialists meet with parents to develop a Wish List for each child in the family (infant through 12th grade). The Wish Lists contain items to meet basic needs such as clothing, outerwear and bedding and a few toys or hobby items.
The Department then invites the community to participate in this project by sponsoring a Wish List and purchasing some or all of the items on the lists. Individuals, families, organizations and businesses participate in a variety of ways. Many groups purchase the gifts directly while some hold fundraising events to raise the money to purchase the items. In many cases, businesses set up "gift trees" that allow employees to select an item to purchase. Over 100 individuals and 42 businesses and groups participate in this project by making cash, gift or in-kind donations. Nearly 100 volunteers of all ages gather on the final day of the project to wrap each gift. Department Officers and members of the Police Auxiliary volunteer to deliver the gifts to each home.
A number of local organizations provide similar assistance during the winter holiday season. Each fall, the major assistance providers meet to develop some strategies that maximize available community resources. Representatives of the Police and Fire Departments, Christine Ann Domestic Abuse Services, Head Start, Boys and Girls Club, Salvation Army and Parent Connection communicate throughout the process to make sure we serve as many children and families as possible. It is estimated that nearly 2,000 area children receive holiday gifts through the combined programs each year.
The Oshkosh Police Department is proud to sponsor this event each year. The "Gifts from the Heart" project gives the Department a unique opportunity to work with the entire community by coordinating resources to meet the needs of families and children during the holiday season.
You can be part of this exciting event. We begin work on the Gifts from the Heart campaign in October. Watch the Oshkosh Northwestern and Oshkosh Media Services TV Channel 10 for announcements. The community is invited is invited to participate as donors, sponsors and volunteers. If your group or business would like to schedule a presentation on this holiday giving opportunity, contact Dorry Wilner, Community Programs Coordinator, at (920) 236-5714 or email Dorry Wilner.