Wilbur Cunningham- Jerseyville, IL

We are always humbled by stories of “kids helping kids”, and the story of this young man is truly inspirational because he has been sending a message of hope to less fortunate children since 2011. Take a look at our other winner of the Impact Story competition submitted by Mr. Wilbur Cunningham, our Coordinator that oversees the Jerseyville, Illinois campaign!

Richie Cullen has been a volunteer with the Jerseyville, IL campaign since 2011 at the young age of 10, and he also supports Toys for Tots with his birthday donation. Richie Cullen, who is now 21, is an Autistic young man who is dedicated to the principle that “every child deserves a little Christmas.” It all started in 2011 when Richie Cullen volunteered to donate his birthday money to the local Toys for Tots Campaign—a total of $385. During his shopping trip, the local Wal-Mart manager learned of what Richie was doing and asked if he could “match 100%” in toys what Richie would spend. Richie’s $385 suddenly became $770, all of which was used to purchase toys that he donated to Toys for Tots.

During 2012, Richie did many odd jobs—mowed grass, yard work, collected scrap iron and aluminum cans for resale and, again, donated his birthday money to the local Toys for Tots campaign. Richie collected over $900 which was, once again, matched by the local Wal-Mart manager and $1,800 worth of toys were purchased and donated to Toys for Tots.

In 2013, Richie donated a total of over $1,000 in toys. He had sold his swing set, donated his birthday money, and the proceeds from collecting scrap material and selling produce from his garden. In 2014 – 2016 Richie donated well over $3 000 and was matched 100% by the local Wal-Mart. In 2016 Richie was featured on a segment of “Harris’ Hero’s” featuring local heroes on Channel 4, the local CBS television outlet in St. Louis, Missouri. Also in 2016, Richie was the guest of honor of Illinois State Senator Sam McCann’s and spent the day with the Senator on the floor of the Illinois State Senate and was introduced to the Senators in attendance and was read into the Senate record. Richie contacted me in 2017 with plans to continue his volunteer work by donating his earnings again, which was at least $1,100. In 2018 and 2019 Richie continued to donate his birthday money along with money he earned from doing odd jobs.

Since 2011, Richie has been a mainstay on toy distribution day. He arrives early on distribution day and carries each bag of toys to each family’s vehicle and makes sure he wishes everyone a very Merry Christmas. During the 2020 campaign, Richie was always available for whatever task needed to be done—setting up tables, moving bags, inventory, delivering meals to volunteers, and assisting in the sorting, packaging, and distribution of the toys to the less fortunate children in our area.

It is estimated that since 2011 through 2020, Richie has donated over $9,000 in toys to the local campaign and with the match from the local Wal-Mart, Richie has been responsible for the donation of toys valued at $11,570 for the Jerseyville campaign.

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