For more than 30 years, members of the Central Minnesota Building Trades have acted as the arms and legs for the Share the Spirit Christmas event. Share the Spirit, a holiday event sponsored by the Diocese of St. Cloud, matches families with volunteer donors referred to the organization with individuals or businesses that want to make sure the families have whatever they may need but can’t afford this Christmas. In the end, they make sure everyone has something underneath the tree even when times are tough.

This year Share the Spirit served 203 families. Ten days prior to Christmas the floor of the St. Cloud National Guard Armory gym was lined four rows deep with presents organized and grouped for each family. They collect their gifts by driving into the back of the armory where they are loaded into the cars. It’s a logical feat to keep everything organized and delivered to the right people, but this is where the work ethic and the discipline of the building trades excels – you must get the job done right the first time.

For several members of the trades, Share the Spirit is a “must participate” event. Every year they mark off time on their calendars to help. Mike Ganz, President of the Central Minnesota Building and Construction Trades Union, has done it for 23 years. “It’s a great feeling to know you are helping people in the community,” he said.

Larry Mareck, a retired business representative from Carpenters Local 322, has participated 31 years. He’s seen the trades go the extra mile, delivering gifts and packages when someone showed up with too small of a car. Once going as far as Alexandria, 68 miles away. For Mareck, “The bottom line is we like doing this so we set aside days just to help out.”