Community support needed this holiday season for families of deployed soldiers

Rachel Kytonen

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For many children, this may be their first holiday season they spend without one of their parents, and a local organization wants to make it as special as possible for them.

Isanti County Beyond the Yellow Ribbon will be hosting a Christmas Party for children of the 850th HEC of the Minnesota National Guard in early December.

The 850th is a horizontal construction company in the U.S. Army and headquartered in Cambridge. Approximately 150 soldiers were deployed in March in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, the U.S. military operations in Afghanistan. Soldiers from the 850th HEC represent 100 communities throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin, with one soldier living as far away as Texas.

The mission of Isanti County Beyond the Yellow Ribbon is to support Isanti County’s military service members, veterans, and their families by coordinating services and resources available to them.

“When watching the soldiers and their families at the deployment ceremony in March, we knew we would really need to be there for these families,” said Isanti County Commissioner Susan Morris, who also serves on the Isanti County Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Task Force. “Besides planning for this Christmas Party, we have also helped these families with rent, car repairs, refrigerator repairs and whatever else has been needed. But I knew, as a mother of five, Christmas is a special time, and we need to make Christmas special for these families.”

The Christmas Party will be for the children who have a deployed parent serving in the 850th HEC and will include a visit from Santa with presents, face painting, cupcake walk, crafts and games with prizes, as well as a variety of other activities. The party will also include a lunch by Vicky LeFebvre’s Catering.

“We are estimating around 100 kids will be in attendance, and everybody we’ve talked to so far about this is really excited,” Morris said. “What’s so cool is the positive energy surrounding this event and feeling so connected to these families. We are really excited about this.”

The Isanti County Beyond the Yellow Ribbon is seeking community support to help make the Christmas Party special.

The task force is asking anyone who wishes to get involved to donate a gift valued at $25 or give a $25 gift card good at a local business. Gift cards and gifts can be dropped off at Star 95 Car Wash in Cambridge, the Scotsman and Isanti County News office in Cambridge, Cambridge City Hall, Isanti County Veterans Service Office located inside the Isanti County Government Center in Cambridge, Urban’s Isanti Hardware in Isanti, Nature’s Way Chiropractic in Braham, WillowBridge Center in Cambridge and the Isanti-Chisago County Star office in Cambridge. Gifts should be dropped off at the participating business by Nov. 22.

“This Christmas Party has been in the planning stages since the deployment ceremony,” Morris said. “These deployed soldiers are going to be away from their families this holiday season, and this is what we can do as a community to support these families. We need to make this Christmas as special as possible for them as a way to show our appreciation for the sacrifices they are making for us and our country.”

Morris said Beyond the Yellow Ribbon appreciates all the community support it has been given.

“Everybody on the Isanti County Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Task Force is a volunteer, and any financial donations received are used to support our soldiers and their families,” Morris said. “All of us on the committee appreciate the continued generosity that is given by our local businesses and the community.”

For more information on Isanti County Beyond the Yellow Ribbon, visit