It has been around for almost as long as the Rotary Club of Milwaukee. It has been chaired by at least six RCM presidents and several other RCM members, and has a dozen other club members among its ranks. It is the Douglas F. McKey Christmas Club which has been serving families in need at the holidays since 1917. The club is named for Douglas F. McKey, grandfather of RCM member Jean McKey, who was also one of the first women to be admitted to our club.
Typically, McKey serves 240 households, two-thirds of which are families with over 400 children ranging from infants to teenagers. The rest are senior households. All are recommended to McKey by six local social service agencies familiar with their needs. Each household gets a well-stocked box of food staples as well as fresh fruit and vegetables. Seniors get blankets and chocolates, while children get age appropriate clothing and toys. McKey members team up to deliver the food and gifts to each household right before Christmas making it a more personal experience for all involved.
Most of the food comes from Feeding America of Southeast Wisconsin. Up until recently, McKey had partnered with the Boston Store for clothes and toys, but since the company went out of business, it has established a similar partnership with Milwaukee based Kohl’s Department Stores.
According to Past RCM President Dan Vliet, who is this year’s McKey chair, McKey relies on the dues from its members to buy the food and gifts, as well as their participation in shopping, wrapping, food boxing and distributing. However in this transitional period, McKey needed additional financial resources to make up for goods and services provided by Boston Store like wrapping paper, gift boxes and other supplies.
Because of its long history of member leadership and involvement, RCM has pledged to support McKey with a $2500 donation for each of the next three years. That support gives McKey time to recruit more members and line up additional financial support to carry its mission forward.
Just as RCM makes a difference locally, so does the McKey Christmas Club. But as mentioned above, McKey needs more members. Past President Dan Vliet encourages all RCM members to look into McKey noting that just a few hours of volunteer time can make a significant difference. Often couples and even entire families volunteer. The four main activities of McKey are gift shopping, gift wrapping, food boxing and distribution all of which occur in December right before Christmas. Event, dues and donation details are available at www.mckeychristmasclub.org.