IP workers bring Christmas cheer

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 23, 1999

In the last nine years, maintenance workers at International Paper’s Natchez mill have become quite handy around the Natchez Children’s Home.

At the request of Director Nancy Hungerford, they have installed a walk-in freezer and cabinet and built picnic tables for the home and built 10 booths for use at fund raisers, in addition to other maintenance projects.

And every year at Christmas, the workers — about 140 in all, representing three different unions — make donations to Children’s Home Drive, a fund raiser organized by maintenance workers Robert Myers and John Hall.

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They got the idea nine years ago from another union local during pension negotiations. &uot;They were doing a similar thing,&uot; Myers said. &uot;So we discussed it and finally decided on the Children’s Home. We’ve kind of adopted them.&uot;

Although Myers had no previous experience with the Children’s Home, Hall had driven children from the home to and from softball practice during his years as a coach.

&uot;So from that, I&160;knew it was a very worthy cause,&uot;&160;Hall said.

The drive raised more than $2,200 this year, and they presented a check for that amount to Hungerford on Monday.

&uot;Some years, we’ve used it to buy furniture for the home, or buy appliances like washers and dryers,&uot;&160;Hungerford said. &uot;Other times, we’ve put it toward our general operating budget. It certainly comes in handy.&uot;

That is in addition to the money the International Paper Foundation and the mills’ other departments give to the Children’s Home, she said.

The drive is one of the most rewarding activities the mill’s maintenance workers take part in all year, Myers said.

&uot;To see the children’s faces – that’s the most rewarding thing,&uot;&160;he said. &uot;That, and to see the improvements that have been made there over the years. It really feels like a home.&uot;