A good deed at Christmas

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December 23, 2013

By Mike Killeen

Growing up, Brianna Blatzheim learned it's always better to give than to receive.

"My mom always had our family or my religion group sponsor a family for Christmas," Blatzheim said.

The CSB senior decided to continue that trend this year, along with some help from CSB senior Alice Foran and SJU senior Adam Kunkel. They raised $600 from students, friends and family members to buy Christmas presents for a family in the St. Joseph area.

"I am so excited for them," said Blatzheim of the family, who is anonymous to her. "I could not have done it all without all this crazy help from my friends. They really helped me out with this."

"Brianna came to me about it because she and her family used to sponsor a family, and she thought it would be a good idea," Foran said. "We thought we would just try to get as many people as we could to donate a few bucks."

Blatzheim and Foran, who are roommates, talked to Karen Backes, dean of admission at CSB and SJU, about their idea, and Backes found out that St. Joseph Parish in St. Joseph was looking for someone to sponsor a family. The two students serve as admission tour guides.

"Alice and I formatted an email, and sent it out. I probably sent it out to 10 or 15 people," Blatzheim said. "I told people to pass it around, and it spread. By the end, we had around 25, 30 people who helped us out.

"We said, if you can give $5, great. If you can give $20, great. We ended up raising $600. It was incredible," Blatzheim said.

"It was crazy how much money we ended up having," Foran added. "It was really fun to go out and spend it on this family."

Kunkel played a large role as well. He set up a competition among his friends, with whatever apartment raising the most money winning a contest.

All three went shopping Dec. 11 in the St. Cloud area, and Blatzheim wrapped the presents and delivered them to the church for distribution to the family.

Foran said she will be thinking about the family on Christmas.

"I want to keep doing something like this," Foran said. "It was really cool to be able to sponsor a whole family and get gifts for all of them. It really just warms my heart thinking about (this family) waking up on Christmas morning and having all of this, knowing it's so little but it's so much to them."

"It made us realize how modest a Christmas they're still going to have, but it's more than they would have had. And, it kind of made us realize how spoiled we probably are," Blatzheim said.