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Community effort brings Christmas spirit to Veterans Park

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Michelle Sheesley spruces up the Christmas wreath Monday at the Veterans Park. (Sam Fosness / Republic)

Thanks to generous community members and local organizations, the Christmas spirit is on full display at the Veterans Park.

Michelle Sheesley, financial representative with Mitchell’s Modern Woodmen of America, was one of the volunteers who decked the Veterans Park in Christmas decor. Sheesley and Modern Woodmen define what the season of giving means during the holidays, as the organization has contributed countless donations and Christmas gifts to the community of Mitchell.

“It’s great getting the opportunity to help with decorating the Veterans Park because they have given their whole life for us to live freely,” Sheesley said, noting Modern Woodmen donated roughly $2,500 for the garland and holiday decor at the park. “They deserve to be honored.”

The time she spent decorating Veterans Park is just one of many kind acts Sheesley and Modern Woodmen do for the community during the holiday season. From helping with the Salvation Army Angel Tree to donating Christmas gifts for families at the Mitchell Area Safehouse, Sheesley and Modern Woodmen continue to provide instrumental help for those in need over the holidays.

Sheesley was not alone in bringing the Christmas spirit to the Veterans Park. Joining her festive contributions to the park were City Council Vice President Dan Allen, former state legislator Lance Carson, Nepstad’s, and the Mitchell Fire and Public Safety Department, to name a few.

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A Christmas wreath filled with patriotic Christmas ornaments was funded by Carson and hand-delivered by Allen.

“It’s an honor to pay respect for all the sacrifices that our men and women veterans have made for us,” Allen said. “The Veterans Park is a special place in the community, and I’m proud we have a park that honors them.”

Nepstad’s contributed to the Veterans Park holiday decorations through creating the wreath free of charge. Renee Polreis, Nepstad’s manager, said she has a special place in her heart for veterans.

“You can never be thankful enough for all that our veterans do for our country and community, but we help out anyway we can,” Polreis said. “It takes a bit of planning to make the wreath because I want it to be respectful yet festive.”

As the wreath sits in front of the monument remembering all of the local veterans who were killed in action during their time serving in the armed forces, they may be gone but they are not forgotten during this year’s Christmas.

“Some men and women serving in the military aren’t able to be at their family Christmas every year. And some are no longer here, but our hearts are with all of them,” Allen said.

Sam Fosness joined the Mitchell Republic in May 2018. He was raised in Mitchell, S.D., and graduated from Mitchell High School. He continued his education at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, where he graduated in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in English. During his time in college, Fosness worked as a news and sports reporter for The Volante newspaper.
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