Bob's Blog Up North Blog

Start Spreading The Cheer

Cherry Republic started its Operation Cherry Cheer campaign in March of 2020 to help lift the spirits of those in need and celebrate those who were giving their all to help others during the pandemic. Each day for three months, we sent a gift box out to a deserving recipient. Since then, we’ve continued to send “A Joyful Dose of Up-North News” to all of our Citizens of the Republic through our Cherry Cheer Courier weekly e-newsletter.

And now to celebrate the holiday season, we’re kicking off a new campaign! During Cherry Cheer – Holiday 2021 Edition, we invite you to nominate a person or organization you feel deserves a festive gift box from Cherry Republic. Here’s how it works:

  • Watch for your Cherry Cheer newsletter each Tuesday to find out what the theme is for that week.
  • Fill out our submission form, describing why you’ve nominated this individual or group.
  • Include a photo (horizontal, if possible) if you have one.
  • Be sure to give us permission to use the information and photo you provide so we can include it in our blog.

We’ll choose winners each week, and highlight one of them in our weekly Cherry Cheer newsletter. Now let’s start spreading some cheer!


Nominate an individual who uniquely goes out of their way to help others during the holiday season.

  • Mike and Maggie Kent, who have been involved with the Northwest Michigan Marine’s Toys for Tots program for 24 years — with Maggie acting as Coordinator for 14 years. They were nominated by their friend, Rita, who shares that “thousands of kids have benefitted from their generosity. They pour their hearts and souls into this project every year to help make a kid’s Christmas a great one!”
  • Suzi Jennings, who was nominated by her friend, Ann, who shares: “I am proud to call Suzi my friend of over 10 years. She and her entire family feed the homeless in Golden, CO, on Thanksgiving Day and weekly, all year round. Suzi is selfless and always willing to extend a helping hand.:
  • Katie Kelley, who was nominated by her friend Annie, who says that while “working tirelessly during covid, Dr. Kelley is a neonatologist who helps save premature babies during difficult births. She brings cheer to families by bringing them comfort during their darkest hours and helping them bring their children home from the hospital—all while creating Christmas magic for her own 5 kids.”
  • Scott Scholten, nominated by Sandra, who says “I work with Scott and he is always there for anyone in need. From keeping a closet with gently used clothes, to helping people move, trying to keep others healthy and meeting their goals. Scott is the friend that everyone should have.”
  • Dan Seres, who was nominated by his daughter, Dianna. “My dad works in a grocery store and works really long hours during the holiday season and never complains!”

Nominate an organization or business that could use some Cherry Cheer!

  • Gail Levenson is the founder of the Keeping Hope Alive Charity. She was nominated by her friend Robin, who shares that Gail “has assisted more than a dozen families, distributing approximately a ton of non-perishable food, thousands of dollars in gift cards, and thousands of dollars in other support.” One hundred percent of the donations Gail collects goes to the families, and everyone who helps does it voluntarily. Thanks for your generous heart, Gail!

WEEK OF NOVEMBER 30 – December 6:
Nominate someone who always comes through with a thoughtful, funny, or clever gift each holiday season without fail. Describe some of his or her past gifts and why they were extra special to you.

  • This week’s winner is teacher Sherri Hilden. Her friend Kayla nominated her by sharing that everything Sherri does is thoughtful. “From having all of my old basketball t shirts turned into a quilt to buying extra holiday gifts for her students at Eastern Elementary to sharing the love of the holiday season and teaching them about diversity in celebration!” Sherri recently had to say goodbye to her son who is in the Naval reserves, so we hope that this gift brings her some much-needed and much-deserved cheer.

Nominate the person, family or business who could use some cherry cheer this year!

  • Congratulations to Michael Sanchez, nominated by Mik Bauer, who describes Michael as a wonderful Christmas elf. “He collects greens and tree trimmings to create beautiful, festive fresh-cut wreaths for all of the neighbors to hang on their door. The fresh cut greens in the boxes you ship remind me of his dedication and love to volunteer to spread Christmas cheer.” Thanks for helping to spread holiday cheer, Michael!
  • Matthew Majestic was nominated by his daughter, Abby, who shares: “My dad is the Assistant Fire Chief in Oxford, MI and has spent the last week helping the community heal from the tragic school shooting. He has been visiting members of the community, calling the impacted families, and setting up mental health support for his department. I can think of no one more deserving of some Cherry Christmas Cheer than my dad. Plus, you’re his favorite store on the planet!”
  • Jean Dobay was nominated by her daughter, Maryann, who shares that Jean is a retired nurse and nursing home administrator and volunteers her time giving COVID vaccines and working as an Ombudsman at nursing homes in her area in Pennsylvania. She also volunteers at her church for various things throughout the year including vacation bible school. She has always been a generous and giving person. She lost her husband a few years ago, but continues to find joy in life.
  • Kathleen Dvoracek is the principal at St. Mary’s School in Charlevoix and was nominated by her friend, Mary who says that Kathleen “is a beautiful blend of loving kindness and strong support for her staff, students and parents. She is the hub that keeps the spokes going on the wheels of this school!”
  • Laura Schultz shares that her son, Declan O’Reilly, had a very hard year last year with school being virtual for most of the year. But now Declan is is on the rebound giving back to the world and has raised over $1800.

Nominate the person, family or business who could use some cherry cheer this year!

  • Jerry Morawski was nominated by his son, Mark, who describes his dad as a kind man with a huge heart. Known as the ‘Leelanau Laminator,’ Jerry clips signature news articles of those he knows, and delivers them, fully laminated, to the individual. Moreover, Jerry gives to his church, the Yacht Club, and the GLA through active volunteerism. He sends heartfelt emails daily honoring a birthday or an important anniversary. Perhaps most notably, Jerry is the dedicated care partner to his wife of 56 years, Debbie, supporting her journey with Alzheimer’s. Mark says his dad should be Person of the Year, and we tend to agree!
  • Kathleen and Mark Scott were nominated by their daughter, Hannah, who describes them as two very special people and wonderful parents. “My dad was a police officer for many years and has helped countless people in the community, and my mom volunteers in the NICU at the local hospital, helping little babies who need a bit of extra help and care,” Hannah shares.
  • Bethann Guelzow nominated her mom, Mariann Spohr, and says that she “unselfishly and continuously does for others throughout the year and especially during the holiday season. She decorates the exterior of our elderly neighbor’s home, sends cards to shut-ins, and spreads cherry cheer along with her baked goods. My mom embodies the Christmas spirit all year long!” Thanks for all you do, Mariann!
  • Nancy Breen, nominated by Nancy Jukins, is the founder and executive director of the Youth Enrichment Center at Hilton-Winn, a nonprofit organization dedicated to positive youth development, nature-based education, and stewardship of the unique agricultural landscape of New England, in York County Maine. She has created a safe, peaceful, and fun environment for children to connect with the land, learn about the science and art of farming, and be transformed along the way. The program serves thousands of children, teens, and families from southern Maine, coastal New Hampshire, and the Merrimack Valley of Massachusetts.
  • Ryan Drummond was nominated by Abby Drummund, who says that Ryan is an amazing father and husband who takes time each day to make the planet litter free. “No matter where he is, rain or shine, he carves out time to pick up trash each day, 365 days a year. He is an inspiration to take care of Mother Earth and all is inspired around him through the ripple effect. We need more Ryan Drummond’s in the world!” We agree with you, Abby!

Nominate the person, family or business who could use some cherry cheer this year!

  • Our first winner this week is Nancy Atwater, who was nominated by Dorothea Brazina. Nancy helps underprivileged individuals complete tax forms via ‘Prepare and Prosper’ in Minneapolis. She also participates in ‘Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly Coffee Talk’ — a program through which lonely elderly people can call and talk with someone. And finally, she also helps with ‘Bluebirds and Blooms,’ creating flower arrangements for dementia patients. Thank you for giving so freely of your time to others, Nancy!
  • Erin Anderson, the lead of University Hospitals Clinical Research GI clinical trials in Cleveland, was nomiated by Debbie Donohue. Erin’s patients include pancreatic cancer patients who have very poor prognosis, yet Erin’s patients feel hopeful, Debbie says. “Erin provides unyielding support, thoughtful feedback, and a caring attitude. I feel exceedingly privileged to work with Erin every day.”
  • Aaron McGreary, a pastor in Arizona, was nominated by Elizabeth McGeary, who describes Aaron as a giving person to his community. He has family in Michigan and always makes a point to visit Cherry Republic on his journey to the Great Lakes each year, and he shares his love for food and cherries with everyone he meets.
  • Juli Bemis nominated her cousins Maureen and Scott Earl. Juli describes Maureen (a/k/a Mo) as “loved by all in Leelanau. She is the do-everything person for 9 Bean Rows, running treats to Traverse City and representing at farmer’s markets.” And Scott is busy handling the plumbing for the Fishtown renovations. Juli adds that “best of all, Mo and Scott have hosted my husband and I through our buying and moving to our new Lake Leelanau home! We couldn’t have moved back to Cherry Territory without their help!”
  • Delaney Dahlstrom was nominated by her Mom, Tammy, who shares that Delaney recently moved to Chicago from Michigan to start her career. “She is young, starting out and brave to head to a large city all alone,” Tammy says. “She has an incredibly loving and giving heart which shows in everything that she does. She is even currently employed by The March of Dimes Organization. She loves your products and stopping at one of your retail stores when we are near one is always on our agenda. When I moved her into her studio apartment, I hid a jar of your salsa as a special treat in her refrigerator which she loved. Her heart is as big as the city she lives in and she would so appreciate this surprise!” We are happy to add to her stock of cherry goodies!

WEEK OF DECEMBER 28 – January 3, 2022
Nominate the person, family or business who could use some cherry cheer this year!

  • The first winner of our final week of Operation Cherry Cheer – Holiday 2021 Edition is the Bay Area Pet Hospital. Molly Reeves nominated Traverse City’s emergency animal hospital staff, who she says “tirelessly gives of their time, love, and compassion to thousands of sick and injured animals. They worked hard through Covid, nights, weekends and holidays to make sure that families have a safe and competent place to seek help for their pets. They have an amazing team that goes over and above!” Thank you, Bay Area Pet Hospital, for caring for our fur babies during this challenging time.
  • Miranda Wruble nominated Gary Bigger, who is the 9&10 News Michigan this Morning Executive Producer. Miranda points out that Gary works overnight shifts every weeknight to deliver news to all of Northern Michigan. “I don’t think the behind-the-scenes workers get enough credit for all of the hard work put in, and I’d love to nominate him as a token of appreciation to his dedication to the job.” Congratulations, Gary!
  • Danielle Wargo nominated her co-worker Diann Glaza-Helbling, whom she describes as incredibly thoughtful and generous. “She constantly goes out of her way to support and uplift others. It is her turn to have her day brightened.” We are sending some Cherry Cheer Diann’s way, Danielle!
  • Karen Donker was nominated by Jean Van Engen. “Karen is in charge of all of our church’s community assistance programs, including Hand 2 Hand, Kids Hope, and the Hope Christmas Store,” Jean says. “She is dedicated, energetic, and is the kind of person who everyone wants to come alongside and help out, too.” Thanks for all you do for others, Karen!
  • Hannah Scott nominated her sister, Rachel Scott. “Rachel is my sister and a newly graduated nurse working in mid Michigan. She works 12-hour shifts taking care of a variety of patients, including those with COVID, and she and her fellow night shift nurses could definitely use some extra cheer!” We’re sending some cheer their way, Hannah!
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