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Operation Family Christmas is once again brightening the holidays for local families

Operation Family Christmas trees will be out with special tags filled with wishes after Thanksgiving. File photo
Operation Family Christmas trees will be out with special tags filled with wishes after Thanksgiving. File photo

Christmas is a special time of year for children and that makes the holiday season a challenge for some parents. Not every family has the ability to put presents under a Christmas tree. That is why Operation Family Christmas was created.  And the effort to make everyone’s holiday merrier is underway now.

The program gathers names of families that may need some assistance in making the holiday special from various social agencies, churches, and the community. A different aspect of Operation Family Christmas this year is that organizers are asking families to call in their needs.

Organizer Jes Rodne explained to WTIP that it should make matching needs to gifts purchased easier and more efficient. She said talking to family members about sizes, colors and other preferences will ensure that the gifts under the tree will be especially meaningful. The deadline for applications is November 24.

Operation Family Christmas is still anonymous. To apply for this extra holiday help and to share the “wish lists,” call the following organizers:
Jes Rodne 218-370-2019
Lena Santos 218-475-0113
Silvi Duclos 218-663-9255

Once the information is gathered, tags are then made with general information about children hoping for a gift. People who want to "adopt a child" may take a tag bearing the child's age, gender, and gift suggestions.

The tags are hung on decorated trees at the Grand Marais State Bank and Security State Bank in Grand Marais and at the Lutsen branch of the North Shore Federal Credit Union.

Operation Family Christmas asks that gifts be returned by December 14. Gifts should be brought to the Cook County Community Center. Gifts should not be wrapped--organizers want the parents to see what their child is receiving and to have the opportunity to wrap the gift themselves. Organizer Jes Rodne adds that gift wrap or gift bags are welcome as donations as well.

Other items, such as grocery gift cards and miscellaneous items that could brighten a family’s holiday are also accepted. Rodne is also hoping to expand Operation Family Christmas to include local senior citizens and local Care Center residents. For ideas on extra items, contact Jes Rodne at 218-370-2019 or email

WTIP's Rhonda Silence spoke with Jes Rodne as she begins her seventh year as "Santa's Helper" to learn why she continues to be involved with Operation Family Christmas and how you can help make a child's Christmas sweeter.