Laborers save Christmas for kids served by the St. Louis Urban League following theft of toys

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RESCUING KIDS' CHRISTMAS, the Eastern Missouri Laborers District Council donated $5,000 to replace Christmas toys stolen from the St. Louis Urban League. Presenting the check is District Council Business Manager Gary Elliott (second from left, Laborers 110 president) to Urban League’s Senior Vice President for Administration and Compliance Linda Harris (third from right) and Workforce Development Specialist Tydrell Stevens (right). Taking part in the special ceremony are and Local 110 Vice President Ronny Griffin (second from right) and (at left) Local 110 Government Affairs Director Clint McBride. - Labor Tribune photo

Laborers Local 110’s Government Affairs Director Clint McBride was attending a recent St. Louis Board of Aldermen meeting when 19th Ward Alderwoman Marlene Davis, an at-large member of the St. Louis Urban League, told her fellow office holders that toys for needy children donated by Paric Construction had been stolen from the Urban League’s warehouse just before Christmas.

The toys were donated for children whose families were included in the 100 Neediest Cases featured each holiday season in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. But the stories that make it to the paper are only a sampling of the need. In fact, McBride said, there were more than 300 families identified this year as desperately in need of assistance.

And then somebody stole the children’s toys.

“It was such a travesty,” McBride said. “What do you do with all those toys?”

McBride took the news of the theft back to his union hall and the Eastern Missouri Laborers’ District Council, which came to the rescue, donating $5,000 on Dec. 20 to purchase new toys in another touching and generous example of the good unions do, beyond providing a quality, trained workforce, to help the neighbors in their communities.

“For something like that to happen, especially at this time of year, for people that need it the most, it was just heartbreaking,” McBride said. “We wanted to do something.”

The Urban League’s Senior Vice President for Administration and Compliance Linda Harris, said the generosity of the Laborers would go a long way toward helping the area’s neediest families.

“Our families aren’t asking for fancy things; they’re asking for the essential items, food, little things for the kids,” Harris said. “This goes a long way.”

Local 110 Vice President Ronny Griffin is a regular speaker at the Urban League’s Save Our Sons program, which helps prepare young men for the world of work, talking to classes about what it means to be a union laborer and what it has meant for him.

“My dad was a laborer and he was who taught us about showing up every day and doing our work for our families and our communities,” Griffin said before adding a little something to the donation by contributing a ham he received a Local 110’s Christmas Party for the Urban League’s food pantry.

“You all are doing a wonderful job,” Tydrell Stevens, workforce development specialist with the Save Our Sons program said, thanking the Laborers for the donation and Griffin’s regular work with the program.

“Ronny speaking to the kids and having them see where he’s at now, that speaks volumes,” Stevens said.

To find out more about the Urban League and how you can get involved, visit ulstl.com.

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