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Attorney Kenneth Allen greeted shoppers as they redeemed the $30,000 in Meijer gift cards he purchased for families in Hammond, Portage and South Haven.
Toya Wheaton, of Portage, said the gift card was especially welcome. She is going through a divorce, and her children had to leave their home in a hurry, without any of their toys, she said.
“It means a lot to me and the kids,” she said, for them to get toys for Christmas this year.
Allen heard many heartbreaking stories and saw tears at the cash registers at Meijer in Valparaiso on Friday as he greeted the shoppers he was able to help.
“I’m doing what God put me on the planet to do, is to help people,” he said.
Meijer helped by giving the shoppers a 10% discount.
There were no restrictions on the items they purchased. Some used the gift cards for toys, others for food or clothing. “It runs the gamut,” Allen said.
School officials in School City of Hammond and Portage Township Schools determined who should receive the Meijer gift cards, Allen said. Each school district got 150 of the cards, with each card worth $100. Hammond families were sent to the Highland store, Portage Township families to the Valparaiso store.
Allen said he used to buy gifts and wrap them, but he realized there was a better approach. “What people need is the ability to bond with their loved ones,” so Allen now lets them choose what to give, he said.