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Thursday, December 17, 2020

500 Toys for Christmas - A "Wrap Up"

A little over a month ago, in fact it was November 4th, we introduced you to Keysha Mcclanahan who was gathering up a few friends to combine some efforts after a successful "trunk or treat" event at Halloween for kids to try and catch a little lightning in a bottle twice.  It's not a job easily done any time and if there's a global pandemic going on as well as a lot of people wondering "what if" over a multitude of life's problems, catching lightning can be seemingly impossible.

Well, Keysha and company were not going to let any odds against them stand in the way of at least trying.  After all, Christmas is on the way and kids....ya, they know things are different his year and they too have had to endure a lot of upheaval.  Working remotely for school in a lot of cases.  Parents doing their best to shield them from worry and fear.  Some of their favorite activities might be shut down, or the budget might be a little tight in some cases.  Way back in March, they started saying "we're in this together" and that meant everyone, kids included, but what about Christmas? 

The 2020 Toy Team

Well Keysha and her crew consisting of Tina Grissom, Willie Wilson and Shawanna Evans jumped in head first.  They set a goal to collect 500 toys for area kids this year.  Way back in November, it seemed like a huge goal.  They had a drop off spot or two and the ball was just rolling.  Then, as it always seems to do, Muskegon and all it's people made lightning strike.  One or two drop off locations became many.  Restaurants who can only do take out still found a corner.  Churches pitched in.  Human service companies dug a little deeper and even hair care places said "Sure, we're in".  

It's this kind of togetherness that sets this community a part.  I want to take you back a little here a minute on a side track.  Way back when in 2001, I really got my first look at how Muskegon does it.  It was just after 9-11.  We at the radio station decided to go collect spare change to help the recovery efforts and I was at the corner of Henry and Sherman.  I was out there for a few hours and literally had so much money come in, I had to start dumping it in my car.  This very same thing came through when I helped the Old Newises out for a few years, I saw it happen again and again with cancer benefits, help for women's shelters, reading programs, benefits to help special needs kids.  I have a very deep and very personal connection with the grass roots charitable work that goes on here in Muskegon and it's truly one of the things that fills me with pride and truly, sets us a part from all of the other communities.  We never let a need slip and more over, if that need is for kids, come hell or high water, we make it happen.  It's in this togetherness that we are able to set aside what the rest of the world is doing, circle the wagons and stand in unison with pride and say "Watch us Go".  It's a great slogan to see on billboards, but it's really people like Keysha, Tina, Willie and Shawnna who make it happen.  We are blessed to have them here.

Now, on to the results!  At the time we recorded, well, the goal had been well beaten.  In fact, not only was it beaten, there were still more toys coming in and at first glance this morning...500 toys had gone over the 800 mark and the level of gratuity was coming through in every picture shared on Keysha's Facebook page.  So without further adieu, let's meet the team that made a Christmas Miracle happen for so many kids this year.  

There's nothing better. Seeing first hand how a few people come together despite all odds and most everyone throwing their hands up in the air over things and saying "we can do this".  Watching people build community, share their passion, build up one another and make sure that some of the rights of childhood are not lost in the whirlwind of a temporary crisis.  Simply put, we're standing here in awe of the accomplishment and we're again standing in awe of the way the people of Muskegon never ever fail each other.  We are truly blessed to be who we are, where we are and in a time that we all share.  Our many thanks to Keysha, Tina, Willie and Shawanna for keeping that Christmas Spirit alive for all of us. 

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