‘Mitts for Kids’ has new organizer Annual drive set to start

A tradition first started here by Jan Hall-Bosma in the fall of 2000, the “Mitts for Kids—Helping Hands” campaign will continue this holiday season with a new organizer at the helm, Melissa Gushulak.
“I am looking forward to it,” said Gushulak, who will be assisted by 2005 Fun in the Sun Queen Sarah DeGagne, First Princess Jenna Cousineau, and Second Princess Brittany Hayes.
“I didn’t want to see it not continue. That’s why I said, ‘All right, I’ll do it!’” noted Gushulak. “It’s such a good thing, and it’s covered a lot of territory in the past two or three year.”
Hall-Bosma, who said she had to step aside due to unforeseen personal circumstances, feels Gushulak is the right person to keep the mitt drive alive.
“Melissa has personal experience in this project as one my past staff members,” noted Hall-Bosma. “Her energy and love for this cause was an important contributing factor for our past success.
“I am sure the enthusiasm of the girls and their new ideas for campaigning will be a huge asset.”
Gushulak said the mitt drive will start in the next few days.
As in previous years, the public is encouraged to donate new hand-made or store-bought mitts, winter hats, and scarves to “Mitts for Kids,” which, in turn, will give them to the local Salvation Army for its Christmas hampers, and possibly other organizations.
The primary drop-off location for donations is the Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce office (474 Scott St.), which is open Monday-Friday from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
As well, local businesses have been approached to display “Mitts for Kids” donation boxes to help in the purchase of mitts for the Christmas hampers.
Gushulak and her helpers will be dropping off donation boxes tomorrow and Monday at the participating locations.
Gushulak is hoping the donations come in quickly over the next two-and-a-half weeks. The cash boxes only will be out until Dec. 4 or 5 while the mitten donations have to be turned in to the Salvation Army by Dec. 12 to be included in the hampers.
The inaugural “Mitts for Kids” in 2000 saw the hundreds of people donate mitts, and cash for mitts, at Hall-Bosma’s business, In Focus Photography. And the charitable initiative has kept growing ever since.
“The results over the past five years of this campaign have been high above expectations,” said Hall-Bosma. “We have always exceeded our goal in providing enough mitts for all the children in the Rainy River District who receive a Christmas hamper from the Salvation Army.
“And for the last three years, we have also been able to provide enough mitts for all the children in the Couchiching Christmas hamper drive, along with providing mitts to Huffman School in 2004 for a pilot project called ‘Mitt Kits,’” she added.
Anyone wanting more information on how to donate hand-made or store-bought mittens, hats, or scarves, to make a cash donation, or to help in any other way can call Gushulak at 274-5206 or Hall-Bosma at 274-0206.