Cheer Club collection begins

Joshua Vissers/Daily Mining Gazette The Christmas tree in the Daily Mining Gazette's office stands ready to accept gifts, but underneath is currently barren.

HOUGHTON — December is almost here, and once again the Daily Mining Gazette Cheer Club is collecting toys for families in need of a little holiday cheer. The Gazette traditionally partners with the Hancock Salvation Army for the collection each year.

“It’s a tradition that we want to continue to carry on,” Gazette publisher Randy Cutright said.

This it Cutright’s first holiday season at the Gazette.

Leonita Schweigert, the commanding officer at the Hancock Salvation Army, wants to emphasize that it isn’t just about giving toys.

Last year, the Salvation Army pushed for winter-weather clothing like hats, gloves and snow pants for kids from newborns to young adult. Schweigert told the Gazette that it is important to provide for basic needs, not just to give toys. Needy families participating in the program will also receive a holiday food basket.

If you bring a toy to donate, do not wrap it. The Salvation Army also will not accept any stuffed toys. Gift cards are accepted, and are particularly good for older kids, who are often difficult to choose good gifts for.

The age range for receiving items is zero-16 years old, although exceptions can be made for children with disabilities.

“I encourage anyone to stop by and drop off presents,” Cutright said.

The deadline for toy drop-off is Dec. 17. The Gazette office hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Friday, at 206 Shelden Avenue in Houghton.

Schweigert is also seeking volunteers to ring a bell at the red kettles.

“The red kettle season is our biggest fundraiser of the year,” she said.

For those with time, she said volunteering can provide much more for a family in need than a toy that is likely broken or forgotten soon. Through the Salvation Army, she said a 3-hour shift at the red kettle can pay for 15 kids to go to camp, 5 kids to rent and learn to play an instrument, or 12 kids to learn archery.

Kettle shifts can be as short as two hours or as long as 10, depending on the volunteer and location. Some locations are inside, like those at Shopko, Econo Foods and Walgreens, while others are outside, like at Walmart. The goal is to raise $65,000 during this holiday season.

If you’re interested in volunteering, you can call the Salvation Army at (906) 482-3420. Families interested in receiving toys or food can also call the same number to make an appointment for an interview.