Teen gift drive organized in honor of crash victimsMichelle Zajac knew the approaching holiday season would be a challenging one for her and her extended family.
By: By Jeff Holmquist, New Richmond News
Michelle Zajac knew the approaching holiday season would be a challenging one for her and her extended family.
Zajac, the aunt of Zachary Zajac, who died in a tragic car accident in July along with two other friends, said this time of year was always her nephew’s favorite. He loved Christmas and deer hunting.
“He loved spending time with family … so the holidays will definitely be tougher than an average day,” she said of the first Christmas season since the accident.
To create a diversion for herself and others impacted by last summer’s tragedy, Zajac said she has decided to organize a special Christmas gift drive to help those who are less fortunate.
“I wanted to do something positive with this tragedy,” she explained. “The toy drive seemed like a good way to raise awareness of those in need and honor the boys.”
Dubbed “Toys for Teenage Boys,” the drive runs through Dec. 16. Organizers are asking that new, unwrapped toys, books and games be dropped off. Drop-off sites can be found at Brady’s Brewhouse, Champs Sports Bar, Mason Chiropractic, Ready Randy’s, Beau Petersen Photography and New Richmond High School.
Teenage boys are typically an underserved population when it comes to holiday gift drives, Zajac explained.
“They often end up just buying hoodies for them,” Zajac said of the holiday drive organizers’ normal dilemma.
That’s why she decided to focus collecting donations for young men.
“I have a teenage son myself and know they are more difficult to buy for, but you also have to be more creative,” Zajac said when asked what types of gifts teenage boys might enjoy. “Personally, I'll be buying board games, brain teaser type games, books and sporting goods -- such as basketballs, soccer balls and footballs.”
The donation drive is partnering with the Toys for Tots organization, which will help distribute the gifts through the local Salvation Army organization. Last year Salvation Army served 326 families, or about 1,300 individuals, in the New Richmond and Somerset area.
The holiday effort is in memory of Zachary Zajac, Jordan Johnson and Joshua Goodrich who died in an accident on Interstate 94 near Hudson, and also in honor of Tom Wanless who was injured in the crash and survived.