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Looking to get into the gift of giving this United Way of Northeast Michigan has a way to give back to those in need this Christmas, and United Way has a way for you to give back.

Joseph Gentry, Executive Director for United Way of Northeast Michigan, said this about the programs start and how they find the kids, “We took over a couple years ago a program called Christmas Wish List that was started and ran out of the Alpena Volunteer Center as a part of Alpena Community College, and for the last, this is our third year of taking over that program.” He continued with, “We work with school success workers in September, early October. They identify kids that are in need, and so they get the parental permission slips, and they list three gift items that they desperately need.”

Joseph Gentry, Executive Director for United Way of Northeast Michigan

A thing about giving back is helping those in need, and Director Gentry said this about the community support, “From the first year we did this program, I told people it was probably the most overwhelming emotional experience that I have been through, from the fact that generosity of our community is overwhelming.” He added, “But then to see the family, because the families come and pick the gifts up during the pick up week, and to see those people that are in need and how thankful they are to be able to have something at Christmas time, it’s overwhelming, it really is.”

Even if you can’t donate but still want to help, the United Way is always open to volunteers coming to help during the holiday season. Director Gentry said, “Anybody that wants to donate that can’t go shopping, they certainly can make a financial contribution. Last year we had I think 20 kids that went unmatched, so we go out and buy the presents and buy food and other household items. So if somebody wants to volunteer during that gift week, some of the gifts come unwrapped, and we do have opportunities for people to volunteer and come and help wrap gifts.”