There’s a lot of similarities between Santa Claus and Teamsters Local 731 Member Jason Haynes. They’re both big, jolly, bearded men who drive vehicles with a lot of horsepower (or reindeer-power) for a living. And they both devoted a lot of their time this year to making sure every boy and girl had a toy on Christmas.

Haynes delivered fourteen boxes full of toys, Teamsters Local 731 members filled up at least six more boxes and donated an additional $3,500 to Chicagoland Toys for Tots at their December 19th general membership meeting. Chicagoland Toys for Tots Vice President Tom Dertz said the Teamsters are one of the groups largest individual donors to their group.

“The Teamsters have been a big supporter of us for many years, they go 110% for us,” Dertz said. “They’ve got big hearts, they’re very giving and anytime we’ve reached out for them for something they’ve come through for us.”

Haynes works delivering steel for Earle M. Jorgensen Co. (EMJ) in Schaumburg, where he also serves as a Union Steward. He enlisted the help of Teamsters Local 731 Trustee and Business Agent Michael Corrigan and his fellow Teamsters at Local 731 to help him out.

“Last year we asked Mike if we could help raise more toys by getting some extra boxes, he okayed it. And then this year we decide to go bigger and we got a hold of Mike and Terry Hancock and said ‘Hey can I get at least 14 boxes,’ and they said absolutely. So we went around and put them in the 14 different stores throughout McHenry county,” Haynes said.

His delivery route sometimes covers 400 miles a day. He’s got a lot of time to think while he’s on the road, and this time of year, Haynes is usually thinking about who he can enlist to help him in his Toys for Tots mission. “I think about raising gifts all the time, what I can do to help the community, what else I can do to be a better person. And I think by reaching out to contacts to help the less fortunate,” Haynes said.

Trinity Athletics Center, a baseball academy and student development program in Lake of the Hills, donated almost three boxes full of toys to Toys for Tots. Coach Bill Walsh tries to teach his players about being men and giving back both on, and off the field.

“Trinity Athletic Center is unique in the fact that we are trying to mold young man to be able to get out into the workforce as well as sports. We have a learning center that we developed here that has SAT prep for the high school kids and we have our older kids to tutor the younger kids here,” Walsh said. “We’re always looking for new things to do, get them involved. You never know what passion these kids are going to have, so if we can get one kid out of the hundred that we have here that will get into charitable contributions and those things then it’s a good thing.”

Fellow EMJ Driver Perry Harris was Haynes’ right-hand-man collecting toys this season. He is passionate about putting smiles on kids’ faces.

“When I go to customers that I have, and I pick up the toys from them, first I thank the customer for letting me put a box there. And then to see how many toys are actually in the box to give to even more kids, that we can hand out. It’s unbelievable. It’s an awesome feeling,” Harris said.

Looking at the boxes assembled in front of the Teamsters local 731 Executive Board at their meeting, it’s no surprise many contained toy trucks.

“When a kid gets a truck it’s even better. It’s just a better feeling. It’s like all right, so now they’re in our industry,” Harris said.

The main focus for Toys for Tots and the Teamsters is putting smiles on the faces of children this holiday season.

“I think with the Teamsters are doing is a great thing. You have the reach and the amount of people to do a lot of good,” Walsh said.

“Some of these guys come from modest backgrounds, and they know what it is to struggle, so they give us what they can give us. They’re making a lot of kids happy this year,” Dertz said.

“There were other boxes that were filled, by the garbage guys in a local, everybody in our local that came that night, and it was just amazing,” Haynes said. “That’s what the Teamsters represent, the brotherhood the sisterhood that’s in it and to see them come together with stuff like that it’s just it’s awesome.”

After seeing the generosity of the large donation, a motion was made to donate an extra $3,500 Toys for Tots, which was unanimously approved by the membership.

Several other Teamster Locals that are affiliates with Teamsters Joint Council 25 made large donations to Toys for Tots as well.

Dertz said any family or organization in need this holiday season, or any other time of year, is encouraged to send a letter to Toys for Tots Chicagoland. You can read more information about the organization and their annual Holiday Motorcycle Parade here.