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      450 kids to get presents

      A little doll for Susie; a football for Bob.

      A little over 400 needy kids in Gogebic County will have presents to unwrap this Christmas, thanks to the contribution of several organizations and community members.

      Half of the toys in Santa's Workshop at the Memorial Building in Ironwood, were donated by people who selected a tag from a gift tree and then purchased a gift.

      "One out of six or seven families might be unemployed this Christmas," said Kiwanis member, Jim Mildren. "So, we have to help. And those young people; they're going to pay it forward someday. They're going to help someone else."

      To make sure kids got to open two gifts, the Kiwanis Club purchased 400 more toys, plus stocking stuffers and hats and mittens totaling $8,000.

      The money was donated by community organizations, including Claudia's Claudettes, which gave $4,000 from their recent Christmas program.

      "It's a labor of love," said Lori Lahti. "So many people are touched in a very positive way. It kind of makes you melt a little bit."

      Families signed up to receive gifts through the Salvation Army, St. Vincent DePaul, and the Michigan Department of Human Services. The Kiwanis helped sort gifts, take the price tags off, and tape batteries to gifts that needed them. Church congregations also made quilts for each family.

      "And then we'll help with a food certificate so they can have a little Christmas meal," Mildren said. "So the effort all together is something that Kiwanis with their 30 people and St. Vincent DePaul with their 60 people, you couldn't do it."

      Now that the toys are sorted, Santa will come and pick them up to make sure every child has a fantastic Christmas.