Creating Happy Holidays

The Michigan Aggregates Association And Its Members Team Up For Toys For Tots Drive.

By Therese Dunphy

As the holidays approach, members of the Michigan Aggregates Association (MAA) are once again gearing up for their partnership with the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves and the Toys for Tots campaign. In its fifth year as MAA’s holiday charity, the toy drive delivers hope to less fortunate youngsters in the form of a new toy at Christmas.

“There are a number of fantastic charities we looked at that are worthy of support,” said MAA Executive Director Douglas Needham, P.E., “but we wanted to support one charity where we could channel all of our focus.”

With a number of member companies already involved with the toy drive, which operates under the auspices of the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, and so many aggregates employees having a history of military service, the partnership felt like the right fit, he said.

For the fi fth year in a row, members of the Michigan Aggregates Association are working with the U.S.Marine Corp Reserves on its Toys for Tots campaign.

Creating Healthy Competition
Needham explained that one fun aspect of the toy drive is the spirit of friendly competition that takes place between member companies. Many of the companies host donation boxes where employees can place donated toys, with toys being collected in the weeks leading up to the association’s winter conference.

“A number of them try to see who can provide more toys than the others, so we end up with a tremendous number of toys,” Needham said. “They like to have bragging rights.”

Producers also consider how to positively impact the children receiving the toys. Last year, for example, one producer solicited financial donations from its employees rather than random toy donations. The operator then used the funds to purchase between dozens of bikes which were donated to the toy drive.

Expanding Its Celebration
During the MAA Winter Conference, members of the Marines attend an evening event, and the toys are presented to them. “We invite the Marines to the reception so they mingle and talk with our members,” Needham explained. “They can get to know us, and we can get to know them on a much deeper level. And, they get to understand what the aggregate industry is so that, when they are done serving our country, they may want to come work for us.”

During the evening, everyone enjoys dinner and dancing. “We do a lot of celebration at our Winter Conference,” Needham explained. “It’s a time to celebrate the year’s accomplishments.” The Marines also give a speech about the Toys for Tots program and explain how many kids are impacted by the program, including those affected by MAA member donations. Afterward, members carry the toys from the ballroom to a truck for distribution to children. Needham said that there are usually so many toys that it takes members a half hour or more to load the truck.

And, if a member can’t attend the winter conference, the association works with them to get the donations to the marines for distribution. “We try to make it easy for them, so we’re not asking them to travel all over,” Needham added.

Fostering Relationships
While the toy drive primarily benefits the children receiving the toys, the campaign itself seems to create a sense of holiday spirit in the offices of participating member companies as well. “During the holiday season, it is a nice change of pace to work collectively to make the holiday magical for those less fortunate,” Needham said. “It is really amazing that something as simple as buying gifts for children can bring so much cheer into the office.”

It may also lead to additional goodwill with the community at large. “When we started doing this Toys for Tots campaign, it certainly wasn’t for publicity,” Needham said. “It was a continuation of the good work and the good will that the industry has been doing for decades.” But, he said, the association does now promote and share the positive ways its members are giving back, noting that companies do a tremendous amount in their communities, but rarely mention it.

“Companies do give back and are comprised of a thoughtful group of individuals,” he said. “We just want to showcase and highlight the good work that they do.” 

If you’d like to donate to the Toys for Tots campaign, use this link:

Therese Dunphy has covered the aggregates industry for nearly 30 years, while also serving multiple roles as a public official. As the owner of Stone Age Communications, she provides communications consulting services to help aggregate producers build stronger relationships within the communities they serve. She can be reached at [email protected].

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