Spirit of holiday giving starting now

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published November 16, 2015

 The toys collected will benefit the St. Clair Shores Cops for Kids program.

The toys collected will benefit the St. Clair Shores Cops for Kids program.

Photo by Kristyne E. Demske

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — As families are preparing to gather and express thanks for what they have, two local groups hope that residents will spread their blessings to others in time for the holiday season.

The St. Clair Shores Cool City Committee and the Luella M. Harden Foundation, run by the owner of Butter Run Saloon, have teamed up to “stuff a bus” with brand new toys and nonperishable food to be distributed through St. Clair Shores Cops for Kids and local food banks this Christmas.

“He had an idea to do a stuff a bus, and Cool City was looking to do something cool for Cops for Kids as well,” said Cool City Committee member Stephanie O’Brien. “The bus is sitting there and people can stop and put stuff in the bus.”

The Luella M. Harden Foundation has been around for a little over a year, said Dave Harden, the owner of Butter Run Saloon, who started the foundation to raise money for scholarships in honor of his mother. 

During this Christmas season, however, Harden wanted to branch out to St. Clair Shores Cops for Kids and local food banks.

“It’s an easy way to collect,” he said of the bus parked in the lot of the Lakeview Public Schools Administration Building, 27575 Harper Ave. “We’re collecting toys for Cops for Kids and nonperishables for local food banks.”

Harden said he had seen other communities and groups conduct “stuff a bus” campaigns, and “it always seems to be successful.” 

The bus, a St. Clair Shores Parks and Recreation vehicle on loan from the city, is open for donations from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily until Dec. 5. Harden opens and closes it each day, and collects the donations — toys from the driver’s side of the bus and food from the passenger side. 

But he’s hoping to spread the word of the bus’ purpose because there isn’t as much traffic driving by with the closure of Harper at Bon Brae for work by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

St. Clair Shores police officer Kevin Kimm, president of St. Clair Shores Cops for Kids, said “it was an absolute pleasant surprise” when the foundation and committee members approached him about helping out this holiday season. 

“We couldn’t be more surprised or touched,” he said. “It’s been a huge success.”

This is the 39th year for Cops for Kids, which began when two officers on patrol during the holiday season were called to a home where they realized the family was destitute. 

“They were able to provide that family’s children with a proper Christmas,” Kimm said. “From there, St. Clair Shores Cops for Kids was started.”

The group helps 250-300 children in need in St. Clair Shores each year, finding the families with the help of the local schools. 

“We try to provide them a Christmas just like the two officers did 39 years ago,” he said. 

The group also helps those throughout the year who may have experienced a loss through a fire or other tragedy. 

 “Cops for Kids is proud to be at the forefront,” Kimm said. “The hardest thing to find is the families that have a lot of pride. We work hardest to try and find them and try to truly help out.”

Kimm said the organization appreciates all those who donate throughout the year and those who reach out during the holiday season as well.

“We’re grateful for all of our partners, our business community and just the outpouring of everyday residents who have given so generously throughout all the years,” he said. “We absolutely are grateful.”

Toys and food can be donated until Dec. 5 at the bus, which is parked in the Lakeview Administration Building parking lot on Harper Avenue, just south of 11 Mile Road.

The Cool City Committee will also host a Dec. 5 Santa Pub Crawl, with all proceeds being donated to St. Clair Shores Cops for Kids. Tickets cost $20 at City Hall and are limited to 150 people. Participants are encouraged to dress as Santa Claus, a reindeer or an elf. 

The pub crawl will hit Gilbert’s Lodge, Pat O’Brien’s Tavern, Baffin Brewery, Butter Run Saloon, Blue Goose Inn and Buoy 12. Learn more on the St. Clair Shores Cool City Committee’s Facebook page.

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