Cromwell-Wright School, Lakehead Harvest Reunion to sponsor 'Best Christmas Ever' families

Organization helps families in need

A tree was set up in the office at Cromwell-Wright School for community members to drop off donations for the community's Best Christmas Ever project. Best Christmas Ever provides gifts and financial support for families in need during the holiday season. (Photo courtesy of Lynn Odegaard)

Once families are done with the Thanksgiving meal, the attention of many will turn — potentially following a nap — to shopping lists and Christmas decorations.

Many are also thinking about how to make the season a little brighter for those less fortunate.

With the spirit of the season in mind, the Cromwell community and Lakehead Harvest Reunion — the organizers of an annual festival in Esko — signed on to sponsor Carlton County families for Best Christmas Ever.

BCE started in 2011 to help give a couple of Minnesota families in need a Christmas celebration they otherwise couldn't afford. The goal is to raise $5,000 in gifts and support for each family with the hope of making a lasting impact on their lives.

Since the movement was introduced eight years ago, it has more than doubled the number of families it supports annually. This year, BCE plans to provide support to 160 families throughout the U.S. and Canada.


B.J. Lindgren, BCE’s area coordinator, has worked for years with the organization to sponsor families in and around Cloquet. She recently moved to Cromwell, however, and wanted to add a family in the Cromwell area.

Lindgren started “pounding on doors” gaining support from both Mayor Sharon Zelazny and Cromwell-Wright School. Many families have experienced a recent loss or health-related issue that has cost them time at work and put them in a difficult financial situation.

“By taking a whole bunch of efforts and focusing on one family, we can literally change the trajectory of their life,” Lindgren said. “We can put them in a different spot where we catch them up on their bills. If you look, the next year they come back and they are actually participating in BCE and helping another family.”

Many people who have been helped by BCE in the past become involved in helping other families in need. That was the case when Lakehead Harvest Reunion President Ryan Hansen was contacted about his organization sponsoring a family.

“It’s always good to give back, especially this time of year,” Hansen said. “With the hayrides, we try to capture a magical time of year and unfortunately, not everyone gets to experience that. It seemed like a really good fit for us to give back to Best Christmas Ever."

Monetary donations and gift cards are some of the best ways to support Best Christmas Ever, Lindgren said.

“It’s like fixing the world one family at a time,” Lindgren said. “That’s the thing for me, it doesn’t just put a Band-Aid on it. For a lot of these families, when you have a huge medical issue and have to be off work for three or four months, it can take years to recover.”

How to help Cromwell-Wright School BCE

How to help Lakehead Harvest Reunion BCE

  • Donate online at .
  • Gifts may be dropped off during the first weekend of Lakehead Harvest Reunion’s winter hayrides: 6-8:30 p.m. Dec. 13 and 2-8:30 p.m. Dec. 14-15.
  • For more information, contact Karen Mielke at
Jamey Malcomb has a been high school sports reporter for the Duluth News Tribune since October 2021. He spent the previous six years covering news and sports for the Lake County News-Chronicle in Two Harbors and the Cloquet Pine Journal. He graduated from the George Washington University in 1999 with a bachelor's degree in history and literature and also holds a master's degree in secondary English education from George Mason University.
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