DECA gives back this holiday season

DECA collects toys for Giving Tree event

Brenda Echeverria, Staff Reporter

‘Tis the season of giving, and student organization DECA is giving back to the community this year by hosting its annual Giving Tree Toy Drive in Hyland Hall.

The toy drive is in partnership with Ronald McDonald House Charities and it collects toys, gift cards, personal care products as well as nonperishable food items. Donations can be dropped off in Hyland Hall 1200, Hyland Hall 4304, or under The Giving Tree in the atrium until Dec. 17.

“Really any donation big or small counts,” said Frank Lanko, senior business career advisor and faculty advisor to the UW-W DECA chapter.

In past years, people have donated things like puzzles, hats, mittens and even cash.

Lanko said the drive collected a fair amount of cash last year, so the organization reached out to Ronald McDonald House Charities to see if there was anything the facility needed more than toys.

The Ronald McDonald House in Milwaukee houses families whose children are receiving medical care at nearby hospitals at little or no cost, so families can stay together.

In the end, DECA was able to buy two new wheelchairs that are now being used in the facility for patients and children who are staying there.

“It goes beyond just kind of toy collection when you really make some kind of direct impact like that,” Lanko said.

Lanko said he has enjoyed being able to see the direct impact of the toy drive the most.

“When we finally had the chance to drop off the gifts at the Ronald McDonald House and be able to tour the facility, it really kind of brought it home for everybody involved,” Lanko said.

Everyone is welcome to donate. Lanko said donations are often dropped off anonymously under the tree, but in past years some student groups have chosen to work together.

The UW-W softball has bought scooters and sports equipment for kids who visit the Magic Room while they are staying at the charity house. Thanks to guests, the Magic Room is always stocked, and each child in a guest family that enters the house gets a chance to enter the room and pick out a toy.

Tayler Jones, DECA’s vice president of community involvement, said this is her first year helping out with the drive, and she has enjoyed talking to people on campus about the importance of donating.

She is also looking forward to delivering some of the toys and gifts to the Ronald McDonald House because of some of the great experiences others have had when delivering.

“Sadly, many families have children that stay in the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin over the holidays. Because of strained financial situations, holiday gifts for their children are not always feasible. Please donate to help make these children’s holiday season a little bit better.”