By SHERI GASSAWAY
Teamsters Joint Council 13 once again helped brighten the spirits of kids hospitalized over the Christmas holiday by donating $19,290 to the St. Louis Children’s Hospital Snowflake Village program.
The program uses the money to buy toys, games, stuffed animals and clothing items for children confined to the hospital on Christmas Day and their siblings. Parents visit Snowflake Village and select the free gifts and Teamster volunteers and their guests wrap the presents.
“This is what the Teamsters do,” said Council President Marvin Kropp. “We help people in our community, and I’m very proud of our organization and its members who reach in their pockets every year to help put a smile on a child’s face who has to enjoy the holidays in the hospital.”
The Council has donated to the program for three years, and this year’s contribution of $19,290 was the largest ever. To date, the Council has raised more than $46,000 for the program with donations of $14,975 in 2015 and $12,124 in 2014.
The funds are raised through the annual Teamsters Joint Council 13 Bass Tournament held at Lake of the Ozarks. The tournament memorializes Dan McKay, retired Joint Council president and Teamster Local 600 president, who died in 2011.
HOW THE TEAMSTERS BECAME INVOLVED
Four years ago, the government liaison from St. Louis Children’s Hospital invited Mo. Rep. Bob Burns (D-Affton) and his wife Dianne on a tour of the hospital and Snowflake Village. Afterward, the couple watched a video.
“My wife and I were both in tears,” said Burns, a retired member of Teamsters Local 600. “We asked, ‘How can we help?’”
Shortly afterward Burns reached out to Kropp about the newly launched program and invited him and several other union representatives to tour the hospital and to help wrap gifts for Snowflake Village on Christmas Eve.
“I went on the tour, and it just brings a tear to your eye,” Kropp said. “Only the sickest kids have to stay in the hospital on Christmas Day. That’s when we decided to make Snowflake Village our charity for the bass tournament.”
This year, a large group from Organized Labor met at Snowflake Village on Dec. 23 to wrap the gifts and in some cases, deliver them to the children.
Some of the guests included Missouri AFL-CIO President Mike Louis and his wife Susan, St. Louis Labor Council President Pat White, his wife Maggie and their two sons, Bob and Dianne Burns, Teamsters Local 688 Business Agent John Becker and his wife Karen and Local 688 Business Agent Doug Carlson and his wife Julie and their daughter.
“It’s a magical program,” Burns said. “It makes you feel wonderful to help the children.”