Local resident starts own ‘Give Back Mission’

HOUGHTON — Rogers Cinema was packed recently with 220 excited children. They had the chance to see Toy Story 4, without buying a ticket to the movie. The cost of seeing the movie was provided by a Copper Country family.

Ray Trudeau, originally from Greenland, recently moved back to the area with his wife Paula, and their two sons, Austin and Brandon, after years of living in Ohio. Austin is a sophomore at Michigan Tech and Brandon will be a senior at Houghton High School.

People are already seeing how his love for the area is being turned into what Trudeau is calling his “Give Back Mission.”

“I talked to the movie cinema manager for the date and time for the movie Toy Story 4. Then I met with the folks at UPKids to contact the kids and foster families to invite them to the movie,” explained Trudeau. “My idea was a coincidence, since UPKids was looking for funding to do what I planned.”

The children came from Houghton, Keweenaw, and Ontonagon counties.

Trudeau explained why he has started his family’s Give Back Mission.

“My Dad, a third generation yooper from Greenland always said, ‘Never forget your roots. Do better than your parents, and always give back,'” said Trudeau.

He explained how he grew up in Greenland with 10 family members cramped in a 900-square foot house.

“We learned yooper values and the efficient use of one bathroom. That is, after we upgraded from the outhouse,” Trudeau said.

He stated that he was fortunate to have the opportunity to go to Michigan Tech and have a great career traveling the world.

“I married my true love and raised three awesome kids,” he said.

He retired last summer and stated that he always planned to return to the Upper Peninsula and give back.

Ray and his son Brandon moved to Houghton this past June 1. His wife, Paula, and son Austin are arriving soon.

Why the idea of covering the costs of the movie ticket for 220 children?

“Our parents worked hard but, with eight children, it was always down to the last nickel every week,” Trudeau said. “We didn’t get to go to the movies. UHF and TV-6 were our luxuries. We had an antennae in the attic like many others.”

Trudeau feels that Toy Story 4‚ will be a memory for each of the kids, and something for them to reflect on when times get tough.

“Our son (Brandon) will have the same memory to give back as a duty to yooper values,” he said. “Which, in many communities, is dying.”

Brandon was at the front of the cinema to greet the children and foster families and hand out the tickets.

He thanked UPKids and Rogers Cinema for assisting in the logistics to make this happen as well as all of those who donate their time and money to make other lives “a bit better.”

This is not the first special project of the Trudeau family’s. This past Christmas, while Trudeau and his family were still in Ohio, he sent money to area families going through difficult times.

Even as the movie credits were ending, and the children finished their free soda and popcorn that was also provided for them, Trudeau’s Give Back Mission has already begun planning his next way to help area people.

He just recently had his truck equipped with a Boss Snow Plow.

“Brandon and I are going to plow out elderly citizens this winter,” Trudeau said. “I am also going to purchase LED lights for their house. They last at least 15 years and draw a lot less in power.”