Santa Claus Girls volunteers organize Christmas gifts for Grand Forks families in need

Helpers from local business, other groups donate time to sort and pack gifts that will brighten the holidays for children.

Jen Ekberg, left, and Diane Blair sort Christmas gifts at the Grand Cities Mall for the annual Santa Claus Girls toy drive Tuesday. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

Volunteers, who are employees of the American Crystal Sugar Company, were on hand Tuesday, Dec. 8, at the Grand Cities Mall to help sort gift items that will be packed and delivered to families in need to brighten their Christmas season.

The volunteers worked in a large room that has been donated for this purpose by Hope Church, which owns the mall. The space is otherwise used by the church as a youth gathering room and, in the past, housed the Bingo Palace.

Volunteers also are packing bags Wednesday and Thursday and delivering bags Friday this week to families.


Fewer volunteers can help with sorting and packing at any one time, compared to past Christmas holidays, because of social distancing requirements, said Jen Ekberg, vice president of Santa Claus Girls.

“This year, I have five packing stations with five teams of two, instead of 50 teams of two,” Ekberg said. “We easily had 30 packing stations last year.”

Among other volunteer groups who are helping with the project are employees of Community Contractors and young members of the Border Blades Figure Skating Club.

“It’s nice to see parents instilling these values in their children," Ekberg said.

For more information on volunteering for or donating to Santa Claus Girls, visit .


Pamela Knudson is a features and arts/entertainment writer for the Grand Forks Herald.

She has worked for the Herald since 2011 and has covered a wide variety of topics, including the latest performances in the region and health topics.

Pamela can be reached at or (701) 780-1107.
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