Local Charities – RAM’s Annual Gifting of Gifts

RAM’s Annual Gifting of Gifts was December 2022

by Garrick Stubblefield, Writer

On December 18, 2022, I sat down with Jan Walters. As Jan introduced herself & Julie she turned around and said, “Welcome to my “Gifting of Gifts” from the City of Buchanan.” Julie started the interview by stating that her last name is not something you’d remember but the name “WESNER” you should. I asked why WESNER? and she took off with a story that went like this.

My father, Gene Wesner, had a car dealership here in Buchanan, Michigan on Red Bud Trail. He opened up for business in 1975 and a couple years later he thought of an idea. This idea transpired and eventually became the GIFTING OF GIFTS event we know today. Gene wanted to make sure that every kid in Buchanan had a gift for Christmas under the tree from the person called SANTA CLAUSE. So Gene started collecting toys early, around Halloween, and ran to the week before Christmas. Soon this turned into a “TOYS FOR TOTS” event, but Gene’s intention was that toys or gifts for the kids from birth to 18 stayed in Buchanan, Michigan.

Gene one year was wondering where indeed his gifts & toys were going. So, that upcoming year Gene hid to watch and when the Marines came to pick up the gifts donated to TOYS FOR TOTS, he followed them out of town. By then Gene is upset and was eventually able to flag down the Marines and ask what they intend on doing with those gifts. One of the Marines spoke and said, “They are going to South Bend, Indiana…” Gene replied back and said, “No, those gifts are going back to Buchanan where the community supports the kids in their city, not South Bend or any other city in the USA.” So they agreed, turned around, and returned the gifts to where they came from.

From that year on, to this day, it has been the “GIFTING OF GIFTS IN BUCHANAN MICHIGAN.” Julie closed her remarks by saying she took over for her dad to keep the spirit going until Jan came in and ran it for about the past 5 years to present. Now my attention went to Jan who took it as a challenge and this is what she had to say, “Hi everyone, I’m Jan Walters and I’m the head person of this charitable event that has been growing strong ever since I took the head position. I’m so proud to carry Gene and Julie’s legacy for the past 5 years. It takes a lot of man hours to get this done each and every year.”

Jan continued, “Gene started this vision and I will finish it or pass to a person who cares to pass a legacy for generations to come, just like I did for Gene. This is such a joy to see a community do this for the town, but also to carry the legacy of Gene Wesner. So basically what we do is ask our local community to donate a toy or clothes that would fit for a kid from birth to 18. After that, myself and the volunteers sort by what we feel is suitable for each age. The week of Christmas my little one gets a Santa list and delivers them to the appropriate families that are in need for kids’ Christmas presents.”

There are many hours that go into this and Jan is always looking for any help and of course any gifts to support Buchanan kids. If you would like to help Jan out you can reach her at Redbud Area Ministries.

Thank you for reading and I hope to see you in 2023 for Wesner’s Gifting of Gifts Toy and Gift Distribution event.

About Redbud Area Ministries: RAM is an interdenominational and interracial ministry center started to organize the churches in the Buchanan and Galien School Districts to respond to individual and family needs.


Redbud Area Ministries Facebook Page

About Gene Wesner Automotive: Family ran car dealership with over 50 years of experience that also offers a full service garage.


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