Nonprofit Profile

Making Christmas merry in Shawano County

Carol Wagner, Leader Correspondent

Photo by Carol Wagner Shawano Toys for Tots committee members include, from left, front row, Flo Withers, Mike Schuler, Melissa Schuler, Terry Moede; back row, Jody Johnson, Stacey Cicero, Pam Moede and Amy Olson. Not pictured are Marisa Rycroft and Robyn Shingler.

Volunteers and area businesses make Christmas merry for Shawano County children from birth to 15 years old through Toys for Tots.

The program is offered through the U.S. Marine Corps. Each local committee must adhere to specific rules and complete the same paperwork. All local cash donations are sent to Toys for Tots, go through a clearinghouse and are put in the Shawano account.

Local coordinator Terry Moede keeps a tally of everything, including the number of kids served and gifts given. He must also keep an inventory of leftover gifts, which are stored by Carrie Verkuilen at her business, Verkuilen Chiropractic and Wellness Center.

The 2017 campaign will start in early November when committee members will contact potential donors.

“We all have our places we visit,” Moede said. “We all pitch in and do what we can.”

The Shawano Area Young Professionals distribute and collect the large boxes where people drop off their new, unwrapped gifts. Last year they distributed 100 boxes.

“Every year they have more boxes out,” Moede said. “They do a wonderful job.”

Letters explaining the program will be sent to area schools and then sent home with the students.

Registration for those who want to participate begins the second week of November and continues until early December at the Shawano County Department of Human Services, Shawano County Job Center, Shawano City-County Library, and Shawano Area Food Pantry and Resource Center.

When people register they get a slip that they must bring to the distributions. The registration gives the committee information on how many items are needed. The gifts are sorted by age and gender at the Fellman Center, where people come to choose their gifts.

Matt and Katie Frank of Y Worry Tent Rentals deliver and pick up the tables that are used to display the gifts. Novolex, formerly Wisconsin Film & Bag, donates plastic bags for people to put the gifts in.

“We make sure everyone has at least one large gift,” Moede said.

Last year the national Toys for Tots program provided 500 toys and stocking stuffers for the local drive. That helps immensely.

“We don’t have to do as much fundraising,” Moede said.

Moede said they usually don’t get enough gifts for kids ages 12 to 15. Suggestions for the age group include books, games, skateboards and sports equipment.

He said people are very grateful, which makes all the work they do worthwhile.

“It makes your Christmas so much better because you’re helping people less fortunate than you,” he said.