The past two years, WCCO has put together a campaign called Home for the Holidays that runs from Thanksgiving through Christmas. We partner with a local veteran group called Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans. MAC-V’s mission is to end veteran homelessness by offering transitional housing, street outreach, legal assistance and employment services.
In addition to sharing MAC-V’s mission through storytelling, WCCO also created a couple events and donation opportunities.
The first donation opportunity is through a phone bank that aired during WCCO newscasts. In the past two years, WCCO viewers have donated over $200,000 to MAC-V.
The second donation opportunity was the Community Tree. Viewers from around the state of Minnesota sent in Christmas ornaments that were meaningful to their town and/or families. The ornaments were displayed on a Christmas tree inside WCCO’s studio. The tree and ornaments were then delivered in time for Christmas to a veteran family staying in one of MAC-V’s transitional homes. WCCO was so overwhelmed by the number of ornaments received that in the second year, we had to get a second tree to display in our studio.
Our biggest Home for the Holidays initiative was partnering with the Minnesota Twins on planning and producing a StandDown event for MAC-V veterans. During the Vietnam War, StandDowns provided a safe retreat for units returning from combat operations. They afforded battle-weary soldiers the opportunity to renew their spirit, health and overall sense of well-being. Over the years, MACV created their own version of a StandDown for veterans experiencing homelessness in our community. Understanding that the holiday season and winter months can particularly be hard for veterans experiencing homelessness, WCCO put on a special Holiday StandDown at Target Field that included veteran resources, a warm holiday meal, special holiday performances by local musicians, appearances by MN Twins players and care packages for all veterans. Each year, between 150-200 veterans in need attend. In addition to WCCO’s community team planning the event, WCCO staff put together the care packages and volunteered at the event. WCCO’s MidMorning newscast also did their entire 1-hour show live from Target Field with content dedicated solely to sharing the stories of veterans and MAC-V.