Helping neighbors: Keweenaw County Sheriff Christmas toy drive is on

Graham Jaehnig/Daily Mining Gazette Keweenaw County Sheriff Bill Luokkanen holds a toy donated to his office for the 19th annual No Kids Without a Christmas toy drive. Luokkanen said his office is seeking donations so that every low-income child in Keweenaw County will have a Christmas.

EAGLE RIVER — The Keweenaw County Sheriff’s Office is conducting its 19th annual No Kids Without a Christmas toy drive, said Bill Luokkanen, sheriff. Loukkanen would like the public to know it is continuing this year, though some people may think it has been discontinued.

“We are continuing the tradition,” Luokkanen said. “Sheriff (Ron) Lahti was very closely associated with this program, and all the hard work he did on it. After he retired, I think some people may have thought that the program would retire with him, but it’s not. We’re continuing on. The need is still there as strong as ever.”

Luokkanen said this year over 100 children will be served by the program, and his department is seeking donations.

“We are looking for donations of toys, or monetary donations,” Luokkanen said. “They can be dropped off at Aspirus Keweenaw Hospital in Laurium, Superior National Bank in Mohawk, or here at the Sheriff’s Office.”

Clothing is also welcomed.

“As a matter of fact, we have people who donated a lot of children’s clothing,” Luokkanen said, “but we also use the monetary donations to kind of customize the gifts that we give to each family. Some families may have more need of clothing than toys, so we try to help them out so that these kids can all have a Christmas. There are a lot of unfortunate people in the area who are in need, so we try to help out as much as we can.”

Luokkanen said that while the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) provides his office with a list of families in need, there are also other ways families can participate in the program.

“We also take private referrals,” Luokkanen said. “People in the county who may have a neighbor or a relative who may need a helping hand, especially around the holiday season.”