2016 Cheer Club kicks off today

Ishpeming High School student Madison Myers helps to assemble a Christmas tree at The Mining Journal office in Ishpeming recently in preparation for the 38th annual Christmas Cheer Club. (Journal photo by Lisa Bowers)

ISHPEMING — Noted author Mark Twain once said, “Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”

The Mining Journal will once again partner with Marquette County residents and organizations through its 38th annual Christmas Cheer Club donation program.

Marquette and Ishpeming Mining Journal locations are collecting unwrapped toys and other items appropriate for ages up to 14 years to be distributed to the Salvation Army of Marquette and Ishpeming and St. Vincent de Paul.

Mining Journal Publisher Jim Reevs said readers generously donated more than 3,000 gifts and more than $8,000 in monetary donations during the 2015 Cheer Club effort, and he would like to see even more participation this year.

“The Journal simply provides a service of being a drop-off location for the toys and money. The success of the Cheer Club is directly related to the generous people that make the donations.” Reevs said. “In this season of hustle and bustle, it’s sometimes easy to forget how many parents are struggling to put food on the table, let alone to be able to provide presents to their children.”

The Marquette Salvation Army, the Ishpeming Salvation Army and the Marquette St. Vincent de Paul received gift card and toy donations as well as monetary donations through the Cheer Club.

The Ishpeming St. Vincent de Paul location does not have a toy giveaway program, so the organization receives a share of cash donations throughout the season.

Marquette SVDP store manager Denise Abelius said the items and monetary donations through the Cheer Club helped significantly.

“Without St. Vincent de Paul some families would go without anything for Christmas. The need in the area is great and we provide what we can, whether it be food, clothing or financial aid as well as Christmas help to alleviate some stress and pressures of families in need,” Arbelius said.

“Last year the Cheer Club helped us provide Christmas to over 500 children in the Marquette and Gwinn area.”

Arbelius said individuals who are signed up for the St. Vincent de Paul food pantry are eligible to participate in the Dec. 15 toy givaway.

The last day for families to sign up for the toy giveaway at the Marquette SVDP location program is Dec. 2.

The Salvation Army has made some changes to its program this year. Most notably, Capts. Doug and Kim Winters have been overseeing the two locations jointly since June.

Ishpeming Salvation Army case manager Liz Nevala said the Ishpeming location is also offering Christmas help to single people thanks to a grant the location was awarded.

Nevala said the Salvation Army is grateful for the help the Cheer Club provides.

“Many of the people we serve are worried where their next meal is coming from, so buying expensive toys or even a turkey for Christmas for their families or themselves seems like a miracle they could never achieve. If it wasn’t for The Mining Journal Cheer Club that miracle would be even harder to make happen.”

Nevala says the deadline for families to register for the basket giveaway through the Salvation Army in Ishpeming is Dec. 1. Registration for families at the Marquette Salvation Army will be Dec. 14.

Both St. Vincent de Paul and Salvation Army representatives said they are looking for a wide variety of items. Nevala offered suggestions based on registration forms and wish lists that she had already received.

“The gifts we could use are Paw Patrol, Bratz, Barbies, Monster High, art and craft supplies, gift cards, outdoor toys like sleds or inner tubes and Hot Wheel cars,” Nevala said.

Toys and other gifts can be dropped off at The Mining Journal’s Marquette and Ishpeming offices, as well as at the Marquette St. Vincent de Paul and Marquette and Ishpeming Salvation Army locations.

Lisa Bowers can be reached at 906-486-4401. Her email address is lbowers@miningjournal.net.