By SHERI GASSAWAY
While many local business and unions adopt a child or family in need around the holiday season, one local union is playing Santa’s helper to at least 160 children this year.
It’s all part of the annual Adopt-a-Child program sponsored by United Auto Workers Local 2250 at the GM Wentzville Assembly Plant. So far this year, Local 2250 has “adopted” 160 children, and union officials are hoping to help an additional 40 kids before the program ends just before Christmas.
“It’s our way of giving back,” said Tom Brune, Local 2250 communication coordinator at the plant. “We realize we have good jobs, and there are a lot of needy families out there – some of whom are even friends and neighbors.”
HOW THE PROGRAM WORKS
Each child adopted receives a complete outfit – including underwear, socks, shoes, pants, a shirt and a coat – and between six and 10 gifts, said Tina Hays, chairwoman of the local’s Community Service Committee.
“We assemble all the toys and items and include batteries or light bulbs to ensure that everything works when the children open their gifts,” she said. “We also include wrapping paper so parents can take ownership in the process.”
Local 2250 works with several agencies throughout the St. Louis Metro area to gather lists for children in need, Hays said. Each list includes the child’s sizes, favorite colors and gifts they would like or items they need for school.
“The packages are then delivered to the agencies and they give them to the parents,” she said. “We never meet the families we help in person.”
EVERYONE WANTS TO BE A PART OF IT
Many union members at the plant choose to “adopt” a child themselves and provide everything needed out of their own pockets, she said. Other children’s lists are fulfilled by individual donations or by money raised at the plant for the program, which began more than 20 years ago.
“This year, we held a bake sale and raffle which raised $5,000 for the program.” Hays said. “And it’s not just union members at the plant who participate – it’s all the staff members at the plant. Everyone wants to be a part of it.”
ABOUT THE WENTZVILLE GM ASSEMBLY PLANT
The Wentzville GM Assembly Plant opened in 1983 and currently has 3,484 hourly and 250 salaried employees. The majority of the plant’s workers are members of UAW Local 2250 who build the Chevy Colorado, GMC Canyon, GMC Savana and Chevy Express.
Last month, the Colorado won the Motor Trend 2016 Truck of the Year award for the second year in a row. Plant officials were ecstatic to learn about the prestigious honor. The designation also makes the Wentzville facility the only GM plant to build a vehicle to win back-to-back Motor Trend awards.