Rather than do a gift exchange among themselves this year, employees at the Merrill AmericInn decided to donate gifts and money to the Tree of Hope for less fortunate Lincoln County families at Christmas time. AmericInn owner Gary Schwartz matched the amount raised by the employees.
The donation was presented Friday to the Merrill Fire Department, which hosts the Tree of Hope and is one of the sponsors of the Lincoln County United Christmas Spirit Appeal. Along with the money and toys, the hotel presented two free night stays for the fire department to offer people impacted by a house fire.
Fire Chief Dave Savone said the toys donated Friday could still get into the hands of local children for Christmas.
AmericInn manager Ernie Stender said he hopes to build on the hotel’s involvement with the Tree of Hope next year.
The United Christmas Spirit Appeal distributed gifts to about 250 Lincoln County families with over 500 children this year. The Tree of Hope is a function of Merrill Firefighters Charities, which partners with other organizations in the United Christmas Spirit Appeal.