Plastics Engineering Magazine

By Eve Vitale

More than 18 years ago, then-SPE Detroit Section President Don Root saw a need in his local community and went to work. He created an agreement between the Detroit Section and American Plastic Toys Inc. in Walled Lake, Mich., to produce Christmas gifts for the local Toys for Tots program. That effort reached a significant milestone this year that was celebrated at the American Legion Post 143 in Auburn Hills, Mich.

Three-year-old Evelyn Ross was the lucky recipient of the program’s 1 millionth toy—a brightly colored SUV with an identifying reindeer sticker on the bottom. After discovering she was the winner and receiving her Toys R Us gift card from Santa and current SPE Detroit Section President Wayne Hertlein, Evelyn got on the floor to take her new car for a spin.

Five years ago, Root put the SPE Detroit Section’s toy donation program into the capable hands of Dawn Cooper, the section’s public interest co-chair. Cooper, who works inside sales and product development at engineering-resin distributor Uniplas Inc., begins making toy-donation calls every July. “I’ve always felt fortunate and want to give back,” she said recently. “I’m lucky enough to have business relationships with others who feel the same way and it’s nice to make it happen for the kids.”

Besides American Plastic Toys handling the production and packaging, Cooper has established numerous other partners. Chevron Phillips donates the resin, Maple Press donates the decals, and E.L. Hollingsworth donates the transportation of toys from factory to the distributing organizations. Over the years those groups have included the Salvation Army, the WWJ Newsradio Sergeant Santa program, the Romeo Lions Club, and the Engineering Society of Detroit, as well as many smaller organizations. “We’re not stopping at a million,” remarked Hertlein. “It’s a great honor for all SPE Detroit Section members to keep this tradition going and shoot for our next million.”

1 Millionth Toy—Toys for Tots
Left: Evelyn Ross is one happy 3-year-old after receiving a plastic SUV—the donation program’s 1 millionth toy. Above: Dawn Cooper, SPE Detroit Section board member and public interest co-chair, helped to play Santa this year with SPE Detroit President Wayne Hertlein.
Photos courtesy of Mark Richardson


(Article is featured in the January 2017 issue of Plastics Engineering magazine)

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