9-year-old launches Toys for Tots collection at Peace Lutheran School

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SAGINAW TOWNSHIP (WJRT) (11/27/2017) - A Saginaw Township elementary school student is on a mission to make sure children in her community have a merrier Christmas.

Every year, Michaela Witgen takes up a project to help others.

Last year she delivered more than 700 boxes of Girl Scout cookies to those serving in the military. This year, with her older brother serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, collecting Toys for Tots was a no-brainer.

"My brother Andrew is a Marine and I wanted to take on the Marine Corps mission," she said.

Witgen began collecting toys in October. What she didn't expect?

"My goal was 25 (toys), and then I met it and it went to 50, then to 75, then to 100 and 150," she said.

Her new goal is now 150 unwrapped toys.

Some were donated, others purchased with money earned from pop can and bottle returns, even taking out a short-term loan from her parents for Black Friday toy purchases until her bake sale and donation drive this week.

"We drew up a loan contract and she had to read her loan contract and understand the terms were acceptable to her from the bank of mom and dad. She took her loan out and went shopping," said her mom Sarah Witgen.

A Toys for Tots box at Peace Lutheran School was overflowing with new toys on Monday. Witgen also has a collection box set up at Peace Lutheran Church in Saginaw.

"It could make them very happy, and make them want to make others happy," she said.

As for Witgen's Christmas wish? It's not something you can gift wrap.

"I want my brother to come home and I want Red Wings tickets to go and see a Red Wings game with him," she said.

Anyone who would like to help Witgen reach her goal of 100 Toys for Tots donations can drop off new, unwrapped toys at Peace Lutheran School at 3161 Lawndale Road in Saginaw Township by Friday or Peace Lutheran Church by Sunday.

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