Largest single donation ever to bring joy to hospitalized young children
By ED FINKELSTEIN
St. Louis – Teamsters Joint Council 13 is going to make a lot of children stuck in the hospital over Christmas a lot happier with the largest cash donation ever given to the St. Louis Children’s Hospital Foundation for Snowflake Village.
The $12,124 donation was raised at the Joint Council’s 1st Annual Dan McKay Memorial Bass Tournament held earlier this year, and presented to Snowflake Village Children’s Hospital Special Events Coordinator Kathryn Lodes and Lauren Warner at the Council’s meeting last month by Joint Council President Marvin Kropp and officers of affiliated Teamsters locals.
Snowflake Village is the heartfelt creation of St. Louis Children’s Hospital to help their young patients who are confined over Christmas still have a joyful holiday. Visiting siblings also get a gift. Launched last year, the Village provides a free shopping bazaar for parents to to select and wrap a gift to give their children for Christmas, a gift they might not otherwise receive because of the family’s financial circumstances.
For children who are alone with no visitors, the nurses serve as pseudo-parents and wrap gifts for them. If they are able, the children are allowed to come into the Village themselves and pick their own toy.
Lodes, the hospital’s special events coordinator said the Teamsters’ gift was the single largest donation they had ever received and they were “overwhelmed by the union’s generosity.”
The Joint Council learned of Snowflake Village last Christmas from retired Teamster and Missouri State Representative Bob Burns, who told the Labor Tribune he’s always had a dream about taking a truck load of gifts and people to a children’s hospital over Christmas. After working in the legislature with a hospital representative, he saw the chance to make that dream come true.
MAKING THE DREAM COME TRUE
Burns reached out to Kropp about the Teamsters making a gift of support for Snowflake Village.
After hearing about the wonderful work Snowflake Village does for families of sick children spending Christmas in the hospital, Burns invited Kropp, Council Vice President Mike Goebel (secretary-treasurer Teamsters Local 688), Mike Louis, then secretary-treasurer of the Missouri AFL-CIO and Merri Berry, director of organizing/political affairs for UFCW Local 655, to visit the hospital with him. After the visit, they immediately signed onto his dream.
Between the unions and personal donations, they quickly raised $3,100 and bought gifts for Snowflake Village. On Christmas Eve they all went to Children’s Hospital to help wrap the gifts for the children. Burns’s legislative assistant Patrick Mulcahy joined them.
“It was a very moving experience,” Kropp said, “to see the joy of the children when they received their gifts. When picking a charity for the bass tournament, Snowflake Village was our first choice.”
“It’s a dream come true that once again shows that unions not only set the standards for wages and benefits, but for benevolence as well,” Burns said proudly.
“We look forward to partnering with Snowflake Village in our future charity bass tournaments,” Kropp added. “Teamsters Joint Council 13 would like to thank everyone who made a contribution to this great cause and to all the hard work that everyone put into this event to make it such a huge success! If you missed this year’s tournament, be sure to get involved next year.”
The tournament memorializes Dan McKay, retired Joint Council president (Teamster Local 600 president) who died in 2011.