LAKEVIEW — With the holidays approaching, it’s easy to get caught up in the fast-paced cacophony that accompanies the season. Despite a distinct tendency toward giving this time of year, things often get too hectic and good intentions are left by the wayside. That’s why efforts like the one being hosted Saturday at McKenna’s Tavern in Lakeview are so important, particularly for area children who might otherwise have a less-than-merry Christmas.
Beginning at 8 p.m., the restaurant will ask for a “cover charge” of one new toy, book or game for each customer coming through the door.
The event is sponsored by the Lakeview Area Jaycees. This is the first time the group has held a fundraiser of this type, according to Jaycees member Chad Lincoln.
“This is something the Lakeview Jaycees wanted to do over and above the other, actual Toys for Tots boxes that are around,” Lincoln said. “Our thought is we wanted to do something for the kids right here in our community.”
The event will coincide with other holiday activities being held in Lakeview the same day, such as Breakfast with Santa at the Tamarack District Library.
“This is our first year putting it on and we figured with the Breakfast with Santa and everything else going on that same day, we thought it would be the perfect time,” Lincoln said. “Being the first year for this, it’s hard to gauge what kind of donations we’ll end up with.”
Lincoln said if everyone who attends between 8 and 10 p.m. brings a toy to donate, the Jaycees will be able to make a lot of children happy on Christmas morning.
“We’re wanting to collect games and books also, hopefully be able to cover a wide age group,” Lincoln said.
In addition to the donated toys, McKenna’s owner Greg McKenna will be donating 50 cents of every drink purchase to the cause. The money will be used to purchase additional toys. Better still, McKenna’s donation is being matched by the Jaycees. This is a “just in case” backup plan, Lincoln said, in the off chance turnout for the event isn’t what organizers hope it will be.
“If we do have a lower turnout, we’ll still have funds available to buy extras, whether that be mittens, hats, boots or whatever,” Lincoln said.
Music for the event will be provided by Morgan “The Captain” Crabb, whom Lincoln describes as a one-man, single guitar player.
“He covers a variety of different stuff,” Lincoln said. “Dave Matthews, Jimmy Buffet. Some people may be familiar with his work behind the bar at Antlers, back in the day when it was Antlers. Since Antlers has become Gregory’s, he’s played on the patio there, and is quite often found behind the mic at Gilly’s inside The B.O.B. in Grand Rapids.”
According to McKenna, his restaurant has a long history of hosting fundraising events for area service groups.
“Most of the main groups, like the Jaycees and Lions, hold their meetings here,” McKenna said. “When they asked us to do this, we were happy to. Alice (McKenna’s wife) and I both belonged to the Jaycees and are now in the Lions Club. They’re great local organizations trying to help the local economy and trying to make things better for everyone.”
The Lakeview Jaycees Toy Drive will be a “good time with good music for a good cause,” according to Lincoln. The toys, books and games collected and purchased with funds from the event will be distributed through Lakeview Community Church, the Tamarack District Library and Lakeview Community Schools.
“We want to make sure the toys collected stay right in our community,” Lincoln said.