By Tucker Henderson
As the name states, Santa Anonymous is made up of volunteers who want to give back to their community, while avoiding the spotlight. This is very true of the New York Mills committee, who tirelessly work for the betterment of their community, but would likewise prefer to keep their service exactly that: anonymous.
Santa Anonymous in the NY Mills area started about 1984 and has since that time been providing and delivering gifts, meals and remembrences for families throughout the area. Although the organization is based out of NY Mills, its reach spans from Ottertail to Butler. Like a true Finn, one volunteer agreed to give their reflections as long as they could remain anonymous.
“I was in a situational year. I was one who they just showed up and they had gifts and they had food. I was like ‘oh my gosh, they’re bringing in all this stuff for us,’” said the volunteer.
This volunteer started around 2012 after having been a recipient of Santa Anonymous’ generosity. After a significant family event, they would be spending a downsized version of Christmas that year.
Working with the outgoing crew who used to manage the annual efforts was a favorite memory of this individual.
“We still meet with them every year at the Christmas (Tree) Festival. Just get together…and share lots of stories back and forth,” the anonymous person said.
This humble volunteer helps with most of the different activities that go on within the organization. Getting food boxes, compiling and keeping the list of recipients and remembrences for those who’ve lost loved ones during the year, delivering food, gifts, flowers, wrapping presents, sorting, dropping off and picking up donation boxes are all covered by around 120 volunteers each year.
“People are really excited to give. I don’t ever feel like ‘we need someone to help and we can’t find anybody.’ We get new people every year,” said the volunteer.
Appreciation for all the volunteers who donate their time, as well as for those businesses and individuals that give their time, effort and monetary contributions is ever-present in the committee’s minds.
“We’re doing our best to remember the families in need. Remembering the people who have had a loss. We do our very best to keep the funds in New York Mills. As much as we possibly can we try to shop within our local businesses to be a good steward of the funds that are given to us,” said the anonymous volunteer.
The emotional reactions from those who are really surprised by the gift are cherished experiences by the volunteer.
“They will be sobbing sometimes because they’re so grateful. My other favorite part is the rememberences for the families who have lost a loved one,” said the individual.
Though they don’t seek recognition, these members of the community certainly did their part to help make Christmas a little brighter for people in the greater NY Mills community.