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John Mercure: Mercurey Rising

Making a Real Difference for Kids

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I spent some time volunteering today at the Salvation Army Toys for Tots campaign on Milwaukee's North Side.

This is an amazing event. Kapco Metal stamping, the Marine Corps and others collect new toys for the Salvation Army. This year the Salvation Army ended up with 100,000 toys.  100,000!  Beginning today those toys are distributed to Milwaukee familes.

They set up a huge Winter Wonderland Toy Shop.  The toys are sorted by gender and age.  There are tables loaded with toys for girls between the ages of eight and twelve.  The next section has toys for boys in the same age group.  Around the corner there are tables full of new little boy kids.  And these are fantastic toys.  They are all unopened, and top rate toys.  There are Lego sets. Barbie dolls, Nerf Guns, board games, sporting equipment etc.

Each family that is served has been interviewed and pre-screened.  They show up today and they are given a list with their kids names on it and an escort.  They then proceed to shop for their kids.  They are allowed to pick out three or four gifts for each kid, pus books and board games. It is heartwarming.

I spoke to "Mark", a dad shopping for his kids. "I am a single father of four boys and one little girl," Mark told me. "I work until I drop and I can barely make ends meet. If the Salvation Army didn't do this we wouldn't really have a Christmas."

Mark had a shopping cart full of toys for his little ones. As he and I discussed the event, he had tears in his eyes. His story played out in front of me over and over.

10,000 kids will get toys from this one Salvation Army event this year.  It makes me happy.  It makes me sad.  It makes me proud. 

We talk about needy kids around the world.  We've seen the pictures and the emotional ads on TV. There are thousands of needy kids right here in Milwaukee.The Salvation Army and Kapco Metal Stamping are making a real difference for kids.  They're making a difference for Milwaukee kids.

Check out our Wisconsin's Afternoon News segment on Toys for Tots here.

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