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Local businesses, organizations participate in annual Christmas Cheer Club toy drive

Donna Keskimaki of Marquette smiles as she holds some of the gifts she brought in to donate to The Mining Journal’s 2019 Cheer Club. The Cheer Club, which kicked off Nov. 29, collects unwrapped toys and gifts to be donated to local children and families in need during the holiday season. Gifts can be dropped off at The Mining Journal’s office; Range Bank locations in Marquette, Harvey and Negaunee; Thomson & Metivier PC; Gwinn Ace Hardware; the Northern Michigan University Police Department; Salvation Army’s locations in Marquette and Ishpeming; and the St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store in Marquette. Gifts are distributed to local families through St. Vincent de Paul and The Salvation Army of Marquette County. (Journal photo)

MARQUETTE — The Mining Journal’s Cheer Club is underway and local businesses are participating as drop-off sites for the annual gift drive.

Drop-off site and Cheer Club donation recipient St. Vincent de Paul of Marquette, located at 2119 Presque Isle Ave., is accepting gift and monetary donations at the thrift store.

Sara Vandoren, a salesperson at the store, said giving back to children in need benefits the entire community.

“I think it’s important to give back to area youth because they are our future. Building that strong community makes people want to stay in the community instead of moving away, which is what is happening a lot with the youth of today with the lack of jobs and things like that,” Vandoren said. “Giving them fond memories of growing up here makes them want to start their own businesses and stay here, which I think is important because we have a lot of older people up here and people who have been here for generations but it’s a scary climate out there and I think that making it more special and comfortable staying here is important.”

Donations can be made during regular business hours, which are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Those dropping off for Cheer Club should specify with store attendants that they are donating to the toy drive as regular store donations are only accepted on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Donations made are never sold in the store and kept in the program until they are gifted, Vandoren said.

“Monetary donations, we use them for buying pajamas, boots or jackets, anything to fill the gaps of things that weren’t necessarily donated,” she said.

Vandoren said there is often a lack of donated gifts for pre-teens and teenagers and that gift cards to businesses such as Hot Plate or GameStop make great gifts for older kids. Monetary donations made to St. Vincent de Paul also go toward purchasing items such as health products, and passes to the YMCA and PEIF for teens.

The Salvation Army of Marquette County and St. Vincent de Paul will also receive the gift and monetary donations made to Cheer Club at The Mining Journal office, located at 249 W. Washington St.

The Gwinn Ace Hardware has also been a participant of Cheer Club throughout the years. Those interested can make their donations at the front of the store located at 193 E. M-35.

Store owner Tim Goldsworthy hopes the community will participate to help make the holidays full of happiness for families and children in need, he said.

“There are a lot of people who just don’t have a lot of money to spend this time of year, so the drop-off really helps a lot of people,” Goldsworthy said.

Donations can be made during regular business hours, which are 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.

New to Cheer Club this year is Thomson & Metivier PC, located at 1901 W. Ridge St., Suite 1. The certified public accountant office is also participating as a drop-off site.

Thomson & Metivier PC is looking forward to giving back to the community it serves, said partner Katheryn Metivier.

“We thought it would be a nice way to give back to the community and spread some holiday cheer,” Metivier said. “It’s the community we chose to have our business in and raise our families in so it’s important to us to be active members of our community and give back in any way we can.”

Office hours are from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday and most Fridays.

The Northern Michigan University Police Department, located in the Services Building off Sugar Loaf Avenue, is also participating as a Cheer Club drop-off site for the first time. The department is looking forward to the community involvement that comes with participating in the gift drive, said department secretary Carley Leanes.

“There’s a lot of people in the community who need help, so it’s a good way for us to help out people or individuals who need assistance,” Leanes said.

The department is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, but is staffed 24/7 and will take donations at any time, she added.

Those interested in participating in Cheer Club can also drop off items at the four area Range Bank locations at 100 N. Front St. and 250 N. McClellan Ave. in Marquette, 216 W. Terrace St. in Harvey and at 601 U.S. 41 in Negaunee. All locations are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The Marquette McClellan office is also open from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday.

Range Bank marketing specialist Hanna Westra said they enjoy spreading holiday cheer through the gift drive.

“For us, we know that we’re a community bank and we’re all about building a stronger community,” Westra said. “Our people are our greatest asset so we know strengthening our community, not only does it feel good, but it really does a whole lot for every individual in the community.”

It’s a convenient way to help those who otherwise may not have a Christmas enjoy their holidays, she said.

“All you have to do is go out and pick up a toy,” Westra said. “It doesn’t have to be wrapped, it doesn’t have to be a specific size or age group and you’re just able to drop it off so it’s something that’s very simple and easy to do.”

Gifts can also be dropped off at the Salvation Army’s Marquette and Ishpeming locations.

Trinity Carey can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206. Her email address is tcarey@miningjournal.net.

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