The Holiday season kicked off today with a great start for Salvation Army, McDonald’s, and their associated charities at their annual McDonald’s Celebrity Coffee Pour and Red Kettle Kickoff fundraiser at Michigan City’s 3705 S Franklin Street McDonald’s location. Salvation Army, McDonald’s, and City Officials gathered in the packed Dining room of the newly rebuilt location to talk about the amazing charities benefiting from the event, as well as network and start the ball rolling on new charity partnerships.
Sam Lubeznik owns and operates 3 McDonald’s locations in Michigan City as well as the Pine Lake Avenue Location in La Porte with his father, Glen. Lubeznik had a lot to say about the good that this event does for the Michigan City community, and the good the community does for the charities involved.
“This used to be one of the fundraisers throughout the year,” explained Lubeznik. “About 5 to 8 years ago, we began using it as the launch event for the Salvation Army’s holiday giving season. Every year when I sit down to talk with [The Salvation Army], they’ve expanded their mission.”
Lubeznik had nothing but praise for the Salvation Army’s efforts in La Porte County.
“So many people are affected by the Salvation Army here in Michigan City,” Lubeznik said. “Some of these people might not even be aware that this is who’s behind all of those resources that are helping their families, their children, their schools, their community. The more we learn about them, the more we realize that’s a great way for us to help make an impact here in Michigan City, and really, in La Porte County as a whole.”
Lubeznik added that while the event was taking place at their newly rebuilt location, all 3 Michigan City McDonald’s locations were taking part in the fundraiser, which sees the proceeds from all coffee sales today go to benefit the Salvation Army.
Jessica O’Brien, Development Director for Salvation Army, was ecstatic at the overwhelming support for her organization.
“This is the official start of our [holiday fundraising] campaign,” said O’Brien. “Christmas is the biggest time of the year for us. We helped almost 500 families last year have Christmas through toys and food assistance, and that’s just the Christmas season. We have so many other forms of assistance that we offer, and this helps us do that all year.”
Some of those forms of aide are: assisting at the men’s homeless shelter, a diaper bank, utility assistance, and many more.
Michigan City Fire Chief Randy Novak and other representatives of Michigan City’s first responders were present for the festivities as well. Novak’s family is the chair family for the Salvation Army’s 2017 holiday season.
“It’s all about the community,” said Novak. “This is what makes the community a community, this is what makes your home town, where everyone comes together to help. At the fire department, that’s what we do. We’re here to help people, so this comes very natural to us.”
The captains of the local chapter of Salvation Army, John and Carry Bartsch, were very happy to see the turn out for their organization.
“We rely on the funds that we raise during the Christmas campaign to fund what we do all year. So, without this, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do,” explained Carry Bartsch.
During the event, representatives from several local businesses and institutions donated large sums of money to Salvation Army, handing off giant checks to the Bartsches. Childrens’ Choruses from local middle schools sung carols to the gathered crowd.
Tim Vaughan, past Commandant of the Michiana Marines charity organization, which works heavily with Toys for Tots and assists the Salvation Army in their toy drives, was extremely proud of the work being done today at the event.
“I just wanted to say, since we’ve been doing this, we have come to realize how blessed we are as a county,” said Vaughan. “Because of the citizens, organizations, and businesses that give so generously.”
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