Students shop until they ‘drop’

By: Maria Allard | Warren Weekly | Published November 15, 2019

 On Nov. 9, at Lincoln High School in Warren, volunteers get ready to take local children shopping in the Kids Wish Network Project Toy Drop.

On Nov. 9, at Lincoln High School in Warren, volunteers get ready to take local children shopping in the Kids Wish Network Project Toy Drop.

Photo provided by Van Dyke Public Schools

 Warren Mayor Jim Fouts, right, presents a city proclamation to Don Tanner, a spokesperson for Kids Wish Network.

Warren Mayor Jim Fouts, right, presents a city proclamation to Don Tanner, a spokesperson for Kids Wish Network.

Photo provided by Van Dyke Public Schools

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WARREN — The Christmas spirit has already arrived in Van Dyke Public Schools this season.

On Nov. 9, children ages 3-16 and their families participated in Kids Wish Network’s Project Toy Drop inside the Lincoln High School gymnasium. Approximately 800 children were registered for the event.

Kids Wish Network is a national organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for children with life-threatening conditions or who are struggling with life-altering situations. Project Toy Drop is a national program that travels the country, bringing clothes, toys, smiles and more to young children who could use a little extra. The program also benefits children whose parents are in the military.

At the VDPS Toy Drop, families picked out new clothes, books, puzzles, board games, earbuds, socks, toys, baseball cards, shoes, winter hats and more. At one table, for example, kids sifted through a heap of stuffed animals looking for the right buddy. At another spot, it was time to find some new, sparkling jewelry. The event opened with LHS students Kierre Spencer and Diamond Johnson singing “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

To help move things along, several Van Dyke staff members served as volunteers, as did members of the Warren Fire and Police departments.

The merchandise was donated from manufacturers, retailers and private donors. In between picking out presents and stocking stuffers, the young shoppers and their parents munched on cookies and mingled with Detroit Tigers mascot Paws, University of Detroit-Mercy mascot Tommy Titan and Oakland University mascot Grizz.

Kids Wish Network first became acquainted with Van Dyke Public Schools and Superintendent Piper Bognar last spring when representatives visited the home of a Lincoln Elementary School student.

“Kids Wish Network gets a request and works with cities, schools, community organizations and the military all over the country,” said Don Tanner, a spokesperson for Kids Wish Network, which is based in Tampa, Florida. “We got to know Piper and the city of Warren when we were here to grant a wish. We got to talking with Piper. We saw there was a need in this area to bring Toy Drop to Warren.”

Tanner said Central Transport, in Warren, helped out by bringing the items to the high school. In addition, several local businesses sponsored the event.

During the event, Warren Mayor Jim Fouts presented a city proclamation to Tanner, a founding partner of Tanner Friedman Strategic Communications, based in Farmington Hills.

“I’m impressed in all the effort that has been given to the kids,” Fouts said. “There (are) hundreds of kids waiting in line. Kids Wish Network has brought in hundreds of dollars.”

“When we were asked if we wanted to participate, we graciously accepted,” Bognar said. “We are looking forward to an amazing day.”

Laura Adams and Sable Gilliam, of Warren, enjoyed the Toy Drop experience with members of their families.

“I think this was cool,” Adams said. “With Thanksgiving and Christmas, it’s hard for families. This is like a jump start.”

“I didn’t think it would be this much,” Gilliam said. “This is something for under the tree.”

Jesse Willett brought three of his four grandchildren — ages 4, 7 and 9 — to the event.

“They loved it. They got to pick out what they wanted,” he said. “I think this is really nice. It’s organized real good. They’re very polite, the people here. I enjoyed meeting different people.”

Leika Valuet brought her children Maisy, 10, and Sierra, 13, to the event for a shopping spree.

“We’re kind of curious to see what is here,” Valuet said. “It’s something we’ve been looking forward to.”

For more information on Kids Wish Network, visit kidswishnetwork.org. For anyone who would like to sponsor a child’s wish or who knows a child in need of a wish, call toll-free at (888) 918-9004.

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