PELICAN RAPIDS, Minn. — It feels like early Christmas lights and merchandise are already getting us into that holiday mood.

At Zion Lutheran, in the heart of lakes country Thursday, Nov. 11, Dean Martin crooned Christmas songs to all the people gathered in the fellowship hall.

Every year, Zion Lutheran hosts its annual Christmas Closet, where quality Christmas decoration are donated, then offered to people in hope of a donation.

"The community has really gotten behind this. It is kind of a kick off for Christmas," said church member Mary Melroe.

Angels, Santas and snowmen fill the hall in preparation for the festival on Saturday, Nov. 13. The event starts at 9 a.m.

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People come and shop, and can choose to make a donation. Nothing is priced, but all the money raised goes to the local food pantry, The Welcome Place, veteran groups, and needy families quietly struggling.

In the last few years, the church has been able to give away over $21,000.

Jeff McCracken of rural Pelican Rapids served on the board of The Welcome Place, which assists families in need who arrive in town.

"All these folks gathering together to share their extras and talents actually — many of these things are homemade, that people bring, and it's kinda neat to be able to share that," McCraken said. "And it's sharing their faith."

There will also be a silent auction, and a bake sale as part of the festivities on Saturday. All part of this early Christmas Party on Saturday.

"I say as I go to sleep (after the event), I'm smiling," Melroe said. "We just get really excited about giving it away."