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Journal kicks off Cheer Club

Michelle Landis and Rachel Hahn donate to The Mining Journal’s Cheer Club and fill out slips for a raffle basket during Marquette Downtown Development Authority’s Ladies Night. (Journal photo by Trinity Carey)

MARQUETTE — The Mining Journal’s annual Cheer Club, a community toy and gift drive to give back to those in need, kicks off today.

Area residents are invited to donate toys at designated drop-off locations. Toys will then be collected by the Salvation Army and St. Vincent de Paul in Marquette and distributed to area children. Cheer Club helps put presents under the trees of families in need, said Journal Interim Publisher Ann Troutman.

“The Mining Journal holds it every year because it is important for the community,” Troutman said. “It’s something that we’ve embraced and it’s been very successful. It’s a real need in the community and it’s our way during the holidays of helping fill that need.”

She encouraged community members to participate in the toy drive by giving whatever one can to help spread holiday cheer.

“There are a lot of organizations out there that are taking care of essentials where the Cheer Club also just adds a little cheer for children during the holidays,” Troutman said.

This is her second year participating in the toy drive. Seeing the community come together to help so many is astounding, she said. All gift and monetary donations made to the Cheer Club will be given to St. Vincent de Paul and the Salvation Army.

“The generosity of the community is unbelievable. It is incredible,” Troutman said.

Those who wish to receive gifts from the Salvation Army this Christmas can register in the Marquette or Ishpeming Salvation Army offices. Registration is open until Dec. 6 and registrants must provide a driver’s license or ID, proof of income and proof of residency. Registered families will be given a date and time, either Dec. 19 or 20, to come to this year’s distribution site at the former Younkers store location in the Westwood Mall, explained Capt. Doug Winters with the Marquette Salvation Army.

“I think seeing the experience of parents that are in tears because they didn’t think they would have enough toys for their kids for Christmas, that one experience alone is enough to drive this process year after year,” he said. “There are families that just wouldn’t have a Christmas without the generosity of the people who give to the Cheer Club.”

Gifts will be arranged by age at the distribution site, which the Salvation Army refers to as Toy Shop, and parents can choose two to three gifts for each of their children as well as stocking stuffers such as teddy bears and games. New clothing like hats, scarves, mittens and winter coats that have been donated will also be available.

“The Cheer Club is absolutely the No. 1 source of toys for us in the Salvation Army. The other major contributor is Toys For Tots, so we receive toys from them and from donations as well, but it all drives this big process of making sure all of the kids have toys for Christmas,” Winters said.

Gifts for all age ranges are being sought, including toys for teenagers, as the Salvation Army distributes toys to children up to 18 years old if they live with their family and attend school. Gift cards, makeup and sporting goods make good gifts for adolescents, he said.

Monetary donations will also be accepted at the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle located inside The Mining Journal. Red Kettles now offer an electronic donation option and donors can use Apple Pay or Google Pay to make a donation with their phones. While Red Kettle donations are used to fund the Salvation Army’s year-round programs, all donations made to The Mining Journal’s Red Kettle will be used strictly for the purchase of toys for children in need. Monetary donations can also be made to St. Vincent de Paul of Marquette.

Participating Cheer Club drop-off locations are:

≤ The Mining Journal, 249 W. Washington St., Marquette

≤ Range Bank locations at 100 N. Front St., 250 N. McClellan Ave., Marquette; 216 W. Terrace, Harvey; and 601 U.S. 4, Negaunee

≤ Thomson & Metivier PC, 1901 W. Ridge St., Marquette

≤ Gwinn Ace Hardware, 193 E. M-35

≤ Salvation Army, 1009 W. Baraga Ave., Marquette; and 222 E. Division St., Ishpeming

≤ St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store, 2119 Presque Isle Ave., Marquette

Trinity Carey can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206.