MARQUETTE - From the giant turkey dinner for the Cratchit family in Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" to the official Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot range model air rifle with a compass in the stock for Ralphie Parker in the holiday classic "A Christmas Story," people like to see kids get exactly what they want during the holidays.
In order to make sure all the children of Marquette County get to experience the holidays, the Mining Journal and the Salvation Army are kicking off the 31st annual Cheer Club.
"It brings a very merry Christmas to families that would not otherwise have gifts for their children," said Capt. Donna Rose of the Marquette Salvation Army.
Both the Ishpeming and Marquette Salvation Army branches distribute to families in need each year toys which are collected at the Mining Journal offices in Marquette and Ishpeming and other area businesses.
"If it wasn't for the Cheer Club, there would be a lot of kids that go without Christmas," said Liz Nevala, a spokeswoman for the Ishpeming Salvation Army. "People are so generous. I can't believe how generous people are."
Both Rose and Nevala said they expected requests for assistance during the holidays to be up this year.
"Because our clientele has increased drastically, we do expect to have more of a need," Rose said.
Both the Ishpeming and Marquette Salvation Army offices distribute toys in a "toy shop" just before Christmas, allowing parents to pick out the gifts their children receive.
Last year the Ishpeming office helped more than 300 families with holiday assitance, which includes the Cheer Club, with around 80 percent of that help going to children. The Ishpeming office also collectes items for adult shut-ins.
The Marquette office saw more than 200 families seek help through the Cheer Club alone.
Collecting gifts for babies, kids, pre-teens and teens is the main objective of the Cheer Club. Books, toys, puzzles, games, art supplies, winter clothing are all possibilities when choosing what to give. Computer or video games are also popular choices. Gift cards and certificates to local businesses are good choices for older children.
"Really anything would be great," Rose said. "Stocking stuffers are always good for us too."
Nevala suggested asking grandkids or kids in your family what they might like and then buying a similar item to donate to the Cheer Club.
Families who would like to receive help from either Salvation Army branch still have a few days to sign up, with deadlines in the beginning of December. Families do have to register to receive assistance, Nevala said.
Cheer Club items may be dropped off in the following locations: Marquette Township Offices, Ace Hardware in Gwinn, the Wells Fargo Bank in Negaunee and Bell Hospital at admitting near the main entrance in Ishpeming.
Items can also be dropped off at the Mining Journal offices in Marquette and Ishpeming. Items will be accepted until the third week in December, when they will be distributed to children and families around the area.