Donning the red Share the Spirit aprons, volunteers arranged, counted and listed (and then checked their list twice) tables full of gifts for kids and adults this past Thursday afternoon (Dec. 12) at the National Guard Armory in Redwood Falls.

These volunteers, and scores of others like them, performed those tasks for three consecutive days as they prepared to make the holiday bright for Redwood County families who would walk out of the armory with loads of items to help them celebrate the Christmas season.

Among those working were Char Ellig and Sara Madsen, co-coordinators of the Share the Spirit program in Redwood Falls.

While both admitted being exhausted as the three-day marathon of giving neared its end, Madsen and Ellig still exuded a high level of energy and excitement as they talked about what was happening.

By the end of the day Thursday more than 190 families had been served in 2019.

Ellig said the beauty of that is even though there are some families who have received help in more than one year, the list indicated more than 80 families which had been helped in 2018 were not on the list this year.

That, agreed Ellig and Madsen, reflects the true meaning of Share the Spirit. 

Ellig and Madsen shared a number of stories from this year’s event, adding those times when they experience that heartfelt appreciation from the people on the receiving end make all of the efforts worthwhile.

This year a group of individuals donated 43 bicycles to the event, and one little boy who came was so excited that he spent the rest of the time while his family collected other gifts just riding his new bike around the armory.

The reality, said Madsen and Ellig, is that the need in Redwood County is real.

That was also evident in southern Redwood County where another Share the Spirit event is held. Marg Weber and Pat Simonson, who coordinate that event, said this year they helped 47 families in the area.

“There are so many generous people who make this possible,” said Simonson.

Weber added she sees how much those who help sponsor and donate to the program experience that overwhelming joy in knowing that they are making a difference.

Share the Spirit in 2019 was another resounding success, and that only happens because of a lot of very generous people, said Ellig.