Pam Poirier found a new mission in life last year when she walked her neighborhood around Big Hanging Horn Lake and collected donations for toys for Christmas giving to children of families in need.
“There were six of us last year,” she said in a recent interview. “We collected $250. We decided to do it again this year.”
The group had a bucket at the Hanging Horn Lake golf tournament, and collected donations on Labor Day weekend, traditionally the last weekend of the summer vacation, when vacationers were still at their cabins.
“People are generous, especially when it comes to children,” she said. “My handsome and generous son Patrick donated $500. In all, we collected $930 this year.”
Poirier told of a special fundraising activity.
My great-niece made bracelets and sold them at the golf tournament,” she explained. “She was going to send the money that she earned to children in Africa but she decided to give the money to the Sonshine Closet instead.”
Poirier said that her great-niece earned $11 from her bracelet sales.
The Sonshine Closet has been purchasing toys with the donations for the last five years, a mission that had been undertaken by the food shelf in the past.
“For me, this is my passion,” said volunteer manager of the Sonshine Closet, Pam Jensen. “It takes a lot of work, and we spend a lot of hours. It’s the community giving back to those in need.”
That was one of the motivators for Poirier.
“The community was there for me and my family in a time of need,” she said. “I want to pay it forward.”
Poirier’s daughter, Katie, 19, had been abducted from a convenience store and was the victim of a homicide on May 26, 1999.
Walking the 8.3 miles around the lake to collect donations has given Pam Poirier a purpose in her passion for kids.
“It’s fun,” she said. “My niece and I take our time and look for agates while we are walking. There are no time limits. We run, and we walk. We just have fun. It’s a great cause.”
She has dubbed her group with the name, the Hanging Horn Hikers.
Jensen said that the Sonshine Closet was able to give toys to 400 kids last year.
“The need has grown massively,” said Jensen. “They had 70 kids from families in need when the food shelf was doing the distribution. It keeps going up.”
Tony Stewart of Tony Stewart Motors of Sturgeon Lake also helps with the toy drive.
“Tony goes to the businesses and gets sponsors,” Jensen explained. “He puts bins in the businesses for collecting toys.”
The Sonshine Closet will be holding a Christmas Bazaar on Saturday, November 2, at the Moose Lake Evangelical Covenant Church to raise funds for the toy drive. Watch for further information.
The toys will be distributed on December 21. Toys can be donated until the week before, December 13.
Parents can sign up for toys at the Sonshine Closet beginning November 12.
Cash donations are also welcome throughout the year. Send the cash donations to the Covenant Church, P. O. Box 445, Moose Lake, MN 55767, or bring donations of new toys or cash to the Sonshine Closet on Folz Boulevard in Moose Lake.
“Thank you my fellow hikers and the Sonshine Closet for doing this,” concluded Poirier.
And Jensen also wished to thank Poirier and her group and Tony Stewart for all of his help during the toy drive.