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“It’s not a very merry Christmas when you go downstairs to the Christmas tree and see nothing there,” said Charles Steinberger, a junior at Kenmare High School and the son of John and Pam Steinberger.
Charles did his best to make sure kids in the Kenmare and Donnybrook communities would find something under their own trees Christmas morning when he delivered a van-load of toys to the Gift of Love donation boxes set up at Town & Country Credit Union.
“What’s 10 dollars in your bank account when you can have 10 smiles on the street?” he said.
Actually, Charles took $300 of the money earned from his custom-combining job with Mike Miller and gave it to his older sister Desiree to spend on toys for Kenmare’s Gift of Love program. “She’s a kid at heart,” said Charles, “so I let her buy, and she got a good mix.”
That “good mix” amounted to nearly $1000 of popular toys purchased at clearance prices by a savvy shopper. Christmas 2011 might get remembered as the year Santa’s Gift of Love bag included Barbies, Hot Wheels, IronMan, Transformers, Polly Pocket, Disney Princesses, toys based on the Cars, Star Wars and Toy Story 3 movies, and even a child-friendly laptop computer.
“I know they’ll get played with,” Charles said after he unloaded the bags at the donation boxes. “I guarantee you that.”
one step further
Charles readily admits he enjoys the season of Christmas. “Christmas is my favorite time of the year,” he said, “and I love to give presents.”
As a kid, he would take his budget of $30 and head to the Dollar Store with his mother, where he bought two or three presents for each of the ten people on his list.
Last year, as part of a church project, he helped wrap the Gift of Love items donated for kids. He noticed that, along with a shortage of toys designated for boys, many of the gifts were outdated.
“I remember wrapping some toy bears that were worn and movies like Fraggle Rock and others like that from my older brothers’ era,” he said. “Nothing appeals more to a kid than a brand new, shiny action figure or a new doll on Christmas morning.”
Charles himself donated two Transformers toys to the Gift of Love last year, but he made an immediate decision to do more in 2011. His mother Pam recalled his response when he came home after the wrapping project.
“He had never not gotten what he’d wanted for Christmas,” she said. “He couldn’t imagine it not being that way for other kids.”
“I wish people ‘Merry Christmas’ and sing Christmas carols,” said Charles. “This is taking it one step further. I had to do it.”
He realizes he will never know where these donated toys will go, but he admitted he would be thinking about Christmas morning for the kids who receive the toys as gifts. “I hope the kids who get them will have the coolest present they’ve had in their lives,” he said, adding that he wanted the kids to be excited about their new toys when they returned to school and talked about the holidays with their friends.
Gift of Love donations welcome
The Kenmare Gift of Love continues to welcome donations of cash, food, clothing and gift items for children and adults through December 14th. All contributions can be left at Gartner’s Jack & Jill during regular business hours or the Town & Country Credit Union, open each Monday through Friday from 9 am to 4:30 pm and Saturdays from 9 am until noon.
“It was the right thing to do,” Charles said, “and it was easy to do the right thing.”
Along with his toy donation this year, Charles plans to work on wrapping the Gift of Love items again, if he is allowed. “I don’t know if they’ll let me help,” he said, then smiled. “Last year, [adult leader] Mary Pandolfo made me use gift bags. I’m horrible at wrapping presents!”