Financially difficult holiday season leads to simple Christmas wishes

Published: Dec. 12, 2022 at 1:32 PM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - The highest inflation since the 1980s means many Americans are sticking to a tighter budget this Christmas, while still trying to create some magic for their children.

Locally, many people are visiting food pantries for the first time or have found themselves on local giving trees. The Giving Tree at Bismarck’s House of Prayer church is filled with nearly 600 names; that’s 200 more than last year. And you might be surprised to see what those people are asking for this Christmas.

Michelle Hintz has studied this list several times. It is the seventh year she’s organized this Giving Tree at House of Prayer Church. Over the years, she’s seen the need grow.

“We just keep doing it and it just keeps getting bigger and bigger,” Hintz said. “This year, we have 200 more families than last year, and I think last year had 200 more than the year before.”

There are kids and adults on the tree. The kids’ tags are always the first to go.

“The adults are often forgotten,” explained Sister Kathleen Atkinson, founder of Ministry on the Margins.

Sister Kathleen Atkinson recognizes the names on these tags; everyone on the tree has come from her organization, Ministry on the Margins. She says the wishes on these tags tell the story of inflation, and how it’s hit so many so hard.

“They’re sacrificing shampoo for gas in the car. They’re making those life-and-death situations,” she said.

“The wants and needs are so very, very humbling. A lot of the needs are hygiene products, underwear, socks, warm gloves. One man for the last few years has asked for diabetic socks and a belt every year as his wants and needs food, gas, anything that will help get them through the next few weeks,” added Hintz.

As she looks through the Christmas tags, Sister Kathleen knows not everyone can help financially, but she says there’s one thing everyone can do to help each other now and all year long.

“I will never, ever underestimate anybody anyplace in the world, saying a prayer for the person that is outside tonight during the winter, that’s something that we can all do also,” she said.

And she says, she’s already seen some prayers answered. She says at the same time needs are increasing, so is the community’s willingness to help.

If you’d like to help, there are still names on the Giving Tree.

You can stop by House of Prayer and get a tag. They’re also available online. If you prefer, you can donate cash here, then click on “special events” and someone will shop for you.

Gifts should be wrapped and returned to the House of Prayer by Friday.