The folks working in the Christmas Clearing Council of Waukesha County have a tradition started by a quote from It’s a Wonderful Life:
“Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings.”
Whenever someone’s close to tears because of a caring gesture demonstrated by the community, they ring a bell in the office.
The stories are many as 4,700 children are registered with their office to receive Christmas gifts. These are children who might not get a Christmas present this year without the help of generous people in the community who give back to others.
“I’m Santa’s assistant,” said Ruth Page Jones, executive director of the Christmas Clearing Council. “I think I have a pretty good job.”
One man brings in $2,100 in gift certificates. A woman who was recovering from a medical issue spent her time crocheting four bags worth of beautiful hats and mittens.
And even Waukesha Patch readers have helped out. After the Christmas Clearing Council posted a plea on Patch for people to sponsor children, one family reached out to give presents this holiday season.
“They came into the office with the cutest little green bike,” said Page Jones.
Page Jones shared the stories Tuesday during The Big Bundle Up promotional event with Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch at the Waukesha Pewaukee Convention and Visitor Bureau. The Big Bundle Up campaign started last year as a competition between Wisconsin and Michigan last year to see which state was truly the “Mitten State” by holding a mitten drive. Wisconsin collected 3,100 cold weather items last year and Wisconsin hopes to surpass that number this year, Kleefisch said.
“We are hoping that we raise a lot of help for the families in need in these cold winter months,” said Kleefisch, who dropped off hats at the office. “The excellent thing about this drive is that all of these collection points will be giving the hats, scarves, mittens and gloves to local charities. It gives folks the opportunity to help out right in their communities and to give to their neighbors.”
New clothing items will be donated to the Christmas Clearing Council and gently used items will be split between the Hope Center and the Waukesha County Head Start program.
“We have learned that there are several children who come to school each morning that don’t have proper mittens, hats and sometimes even coats,” said Tammy Tritz, executive director of the convention and visitor bureau. “We are willing delighted to have an opportunity to give back to the community.”
And while pride was on the line last winter, Wisconsin and Michigan aren't holding competing drives this year.
"While there is still a bit of rivalry, we want to keep that rivalry to sports," Kleefisch said.
How to Help
- What’s needed: New or gently used coats, sweaters, hats, mittens and other warm clothing items
- Where to donate: Waukesha Pewaukee Convention and Visitor Bureau, N14W23755 Stone Ridge Dr. Ste. 225, Waukesha
- Timeline: The Big Bundle Up campaign ends Jan. 4.