‘Hearts will be glad:’ MP’s $10,000 donation supports nonprofits serving children, homeless community

Nov 17, 2020

Three Duluth nonprofits working to help ensure warm hands, warm feet and a warm place to stay for children and adults in need are getting a helping hand from Minnesota Power.

The company’s contribution of $10,000 will be divided among CHUM, Life House and Kids Closet. CHUM will receive $5,000 for winter footwear and a holiday meal at the warming shelter at the Rainbow Center in Duluth, and Life House and Kids Closet each will receive $2,500 so children and teens can receive cold weather gear, including jackets, mittens, hats, coats, socks and boots.

“About 200 to 300 people rely on CHUM, the warming center and street outreach to meet their most basic needs over the winter,” said Lee Stuart, CHUM executive director. “A holiday meal and warm boots? Hearts will be glad!”

The contributions to the three nonprofits are in lieu of hosting the traditional Community Christmas Tree on the plaza outside Minnesota Power’s headquarters in downtown Duluth. The construction schedule for ongoing plaza renovations will continue into the holiday season, preventing Minnesota Power from safely hosting the tree this year.

“Once it became apparent we wouldn’t be able to host the Community Christmas Tree, a tradition we have held dear for many years, we reached out to area nonprofits to see how we could embrace the spirit of the season in other ways,” said ALLETE President and CEO Bethany Owen. “As Duluth and our region continue to feel the effects of a global pandemic, we want to spread some holiday warmth and make a meaningful difference by supporting these organizations in their efforts to ensure that children and adults can stay warm on frigid nights. We look forward to celebrating with community members on the newly refurbished plaza next year for our Community Christmas Tree time-honored tradition.”

Stuart said CHUM is grateful for the many generous ways Minnesota Power has supported its work over the years and this contribution will make a big difference to people experiencing homelessness. Jordon Johnson, executive director at Life House, said winter and the holidays can be challenging for the homeless and at-risk teens and young adults the nonprofit serves.

Aimee Curtis, Community Relations and MP Foundation administrator, had quickly identified CHUM, Life House and Kids Closet as nonprofits that could make the best and most intentional use of the donations. And on Monday, Curtis, Kelley Eldien, senior Corporate Communications specialist, and Rachel Cincoski, senior multimedia specialist—wearing face coverings and working socially distant—filled the gift bags for Life House with mittens, socks and other items. Life House staff members picked up the bags from ALLETE Headquarters and will distribute them.

“We are thrilled to share the gift bags with our youth this holiday season,” Johnson said. “The generosity of Minnesota Power makes an incredible impact on their lives. Moments like this are often remembered for years to come.”

Here are details about how the $10,000 will be used:

Rainbow Center warming shelter: CHUM will use the $5,000 donation to provide a holiday meal for about 150 people at the warming shelter with the rest of the money used to purchase warm boots and socks — items in high demand for the people CHUM serves. The warming shelter for the homeless, 211 North 3rd Ave. E., will open on nights when the National Weather Service predicts a temperature of 32 degrees or below. More information here.

Life House. The $2,500 donation will be used to fill about 100 gift bags with mittens, gloves, hand warmers, socks, small hand sanitizers, chapstick, hand lotion and hot cocoa. The bags will be distributed to youths the nonprofit serves. Life House provides comprehensive services to homeless and at-risk youth ages 14-24. More information here.

Kids Closet. The $2,500 donation will be used to purchase coats and other winter gear for children. The organization, run by volunteers, provides free clothing to Duluth schoolchildren in need through the fifth grade. Referrals to Kids Closet are made by a school social worker or family advocate. More information here.