Elves gear up for Operation Wishlists
By Karen Heckel-Rhodes and Carol Keel
2016 will be the 23rd year of Operation Wishlists, a partnership between community members, local bars, and restaurants. Bar and restaurant owners, staff, and patrons purchase items such as toys, music, warm blankets and throws, and more for children in the hospital in pediatrics and people who are in palliative care hospice care, the House of the Dove, and the Hope Lodge in Marshfield.
It started 22 years ago with elf Binky, Karen Heckel-Rhodes; elf Twinky, Carol Keel; and former director of Main Street Marshfield Sheila Nyberg. Heckel-Rhodes and Keel volunteered at Main Street Marshfield with Nyberg.
Heckel-Rhodes told the others, “We’ve got to do something for the kids in hospitals and families and people who are in hospice palliative care, the House of the Dove, and the Hope Lodge. People forget about people in the hospice care places.”
The notion resonated with Keel and Heckel-Rhodes as Keel’s father died at the old palliative hospice care building and Heckel-Rhodes’ uncle and others have died at the House of the Dove, and the tradition was born. A few years ago organizers decided to call the program Operation Wishlists.
Binky and Twinky get all dressed up in elf outfits and deliver the gifts Dec. 23 and Dec. 24. They help make the recipients’ Christmases a little more special.
Around Marshfield at bars and restaurants, there are jugs for raising money for Operation Wishlists. If you are at these establishments and see or hear about Operation Wishlists, please help the cause. There is no money in the world that could pay to see children’s or adults’ eyes light up when they see the elves delivering gifts, especially for them.
Other help outside of Marshfield has been from the Green Bay Packers organization, including years ago from Brett Favre to an 18-year-old boy battling leukemia. It was the teen’s wish to meet Favre. Though this was going to be a hard wish to accomplish, with help from the Packers, Favre made a call to the young man and had a long conversation.
A couple of days later, the 18-year-old received a large box with autographed items from Favre. The team included a helmet, football jersey, and a lot more.
For those wishing to donate to Operation Wishlists, an account has been set up at the State Bank of Marshfield, 124 N. Central Ave. in Marshfield. Anyone who would like to shop, wrap, or even deliver the gifts should contact Karen Heckel-Rhodes at 715-305-0661.