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Osakis Mitten Tree project under way

Osakis Women's Association members sort through gifts at City Hall during last year's Mitten Tree effort. They included (left to right) Heidi Ciepielinski, Shelly Engfer-Triebenbach and Christine Uhl. (Contributed)

Here's a way to brighten the Christmas of a child whose family is struggling financially: Support the Osakis Mitten Tree.

The Osakis Women's Association has conducted the Mitten Tree service project for more than 20 years.

In the past, the OWA has helped to provide a Merry Christmas to anywhere from 40 to 80 families, and 70 to 120 children a year.

Families who are financially struggling and need help with Christmas gifts can pick up and drop off an application at City Hall. The deadline for applications is Wednesday, Dec. 7.

Here are the rules:

• Children must live in Osakis or attend an Osakis School.

• Children must be between the ages of 0-18.

• All applications must be filled out by a parent or legal guardian.

• Applications should be submitted by Wednesday, Dec. You can drop off applications at City Hall or mail it to OWA, PO Box 262, Osakis, MN 5360.

• Each child may only be entered once (divorced parents may not apply individually).

• Major electronics, electronic games, cash, and gift cards are excluded.

How the Mitten Tree works

A paper "mitten" is made for each child in need and hung on the Christmas tree at City Hall. The mitten specifies the child's name, sex, age, clothing sizes and some gift ideas.

Members of the community can come in and pick up a "mitten" to shop for specific child/children. If members of the community would like to shop for a specific child but are not able to get to City Hall during business hours, they can get a mitten by calling or texting Heidi at 320-217-3341.

The OWA also accepts general toy/gift donations at City Hall, First National Bank of Osakis and Dollar General.

"Not only do these donations decrease the amount of shopping the OWA has to do, the items are very important in helping us fill in the gaps and ensure that each child in the family gets about the same number/quality of gifts," said Heidi Ciepielinski, OWA Mitten Tree coordinator.

All gifts must be new, unwrapped and returned by Wednesday, Dec. 12.

The OWA uses community financial donations to shop for all "mittens" — children — left on the tree that were not selected by community members. The OWA usually shops for anywhere from 40-80 children and buys toys/gifts and clothing for each one.

"We also provide a gift certificate to Osakis Family Foods for parents to purchase needed food items or to make a holiday meal," said Ciepielinski. "And the Osakis Lutheran Church generously donates quilts each year so most new families who has applied (and all babies) receive a quilt."

Those with questions may call Ciepielinski at 320-217-3341 or City Hall at 320-859-2150.


The Osakis Women's Association is committed to improving the quality of life in the community. It annually provides scholarships for graduating seniors, organizes Santa Days and the Community Halloween Party, conducts many of the park activities during the Osakis Festival, offers family/individual hardship donations to those in need, and supports the development of projects of other local organizations.

Al Edenloff

Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  

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