USW Toy Drive A Huge Success

Toys collected from the USW 7-669 toy drive in support of the Brookport, IL tornado victims.
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When the talks began to organize a toy drive for the victims of the November 17th tornado that ripped through Brookport, IL we had no idea of the amount of outreach we would receive.  The toy drive was held on December 3rd at the USW 7-669 union hall, and was helped with promotion by local news stations KFVS 12 of Cape Girardeau, MO and WPSD Local 6 of Paducah, KY on what is being called "Giving Tuesday."

The union accepted new, unwrapped toys and monetary donations on the day of the drive and up to December 10th.

The donations began rolling in the day of the toy drive and did not stop.  Individuals and groups made both toy and monetary donations in excess of what we could have imagined.  "Local Union members were stopping by before and after their shifts, community members were showing up, a Girl Scout Troop came by with toys, the gifts just kept coming..." said Franklin Walter, the union's Community Outreach Committee Chairman.

USW Local 7-669 Committee Members and Toy Drive organizers with Metropolis Girl Scout Troop 8912
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There were several groups who made both toy and monetary donations including Girl Scout Troop 8912 of Metropolis, Storm Riders Motorcycle Club of Murphysburo, Innovative Safety Solutions of Paducah, KY, and United Steelworkers District 7 Sub-District 2.

There were also toy and monetary donations locally and from around the country.  "We did a lot of promotion on short notice and could not believe the response.  We literally had toys and money coming in from around the country, there is no way to thank everyone who made this event such a success..." said John Paul Smith, Production Committeeman and Toy Drive organizer.

The union worked with Brookport Elementary to distribute the toys.  Officials at the school had a system to assess need and make sure that the hardest hit families were helped most.

USW 7-669 President, Stephen Lech with Storm Riders Motorcycle Club Treasurer Scott Holder with the club's donation.
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"The toys donated were great and with the monetary donations we were able to purchase some big ticket items as well.  We are ecstatic that there will be some children who will have a good Christmas because our community knows how to pull together and help each other out," said Stephen Lech, USW Local 7-669 President.

The union is considering making the toy drive an annual "Giving Tuesday" event given the success and will look to work with community organizations to grow the outreach.