Iron County Human Services, other groups host toy drive


December 4, 2021


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Iron County Human Services, with the help of the Iron County Fire Association and Northern Iron County Engaged Residents (NICER), is working to see that every child in the county has something under the tree on Christmas.

“It’s all about the kids,” said Diane Schmidtke, of the Iron County Human Services Department. “Thanks to the community for their great response.”

Each year the Human Services staff start identifying families in the fall and distribute forms to gather information about the age, wants and needs of the children.

Over the years, local firefighters through the Iron County Fire Association have run a toy drive. Collection for that program will be Dec. 11 from 8 a.m. to noon at fire halls across the county, including Hurley, Kimball, Mercer, Oma, Saxon, Springstead and Upson.

The firefighters not only collect unwrapped new toys, but many other items including books, puzzles, games, arts and craft supplies, sleds, hunting and fishing items, socks, pajamas, underwear and gift cards.

All the items are delivered to the Human Services office and distributed by staff from there in time for Christmas.

Also participating is the NICER organization. For the second year, it is facilitating a Giving Tree as part of this Iron County Community Cares Program, according to a release by NICER member Kelly Traczyk.

“Children in Iron County need Christmas gifts and this year has been difficult for many families,” said Traczyk in the release. “What are the youth asking for? Jeans, leggings, T-shirts and hats, gloves and socks, as well as a need for bathroom essentials has also been reported.”

Because of this need, NICER has partnered with the county’s Human Services department to organize the second annual Giving Tree.

“Last year’s event was a testament to the outstanding generosity of our local community. We thank you for your continued participation,” said Traczyk.

Schmidtke said the cards on the tree indicate a gender, age and an item — things that were requested by the children and their parents for their children.

The Giving Tree is located outside Hurley’s city hall, just to the south of the fire hall doors. Those who want to help can take a card from the tree and fulfill the gift noted. New, unopened, unwrapped gifts should be dropped off at the Hurley Police Department inside city hall or at Iron County Human Services at the courthouse.

Gifts must be dropped off by Dec. 15.

The Community Cares program has for many years provided Christmas gifts to local youth and families in need. In prior years, generous county employees organized an in-house fundraiser during their annual Christmas party, said Traczyk.

Schmidtke said many county employees still participate, but they’re happy to have the support of the community at large.

“There’s a great lesson in giving for kids,” said Schmidtke, suggesting that a parent could gather one of the cards from the tree with their child and go shopping to fulfill the request.

Cash donations are also accepted. Schmidtke said the Human Services staff will go shopping to fill requests for all sorts of items from toys to hats and mittens.

“We want all the children to be able to return to school in January and be able to say what they got for Christmas,” said Schmidtke.

Cash donations can also be made to NICER, according to Traczyk, who said members will also be purchasing gifts to fulfill wishes and needs. Checks should be made to NICER, with Giving Tree in the subject line and dropped off or mailed to the UW-Extension at the Iron County Court House, 300 Taconite St., Hurley, or submitted online at 

For more information, contact Dianne Schmidtke at Human Services 715-561-3636 ext. 2128, Kelly Traczyk at kellytraczyk, Stacy Ofstad of the Iron County Fire Association at 715-561-3266, or a local fire chief in the county.


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