It's a holiday tradition dating back to 1999. And for a short time in October, Dawn Cooper thought it wasn't happening this year.
Cooper, who works in sales and product development for Summit Plastic Molding in Chelsea, Mich., helps with the Detroit chapter of the Society of Plastics Engineers' annual toy donation.
About 35,000 toys are molded every year and handed out to the United Way and other charities to give to children in need. The SPE chapter pulls together every sector of the industry to donate time, materials and machines to make it happen.
But Mother Nature had other plans this year. When Hurricane Harvey slammed the Texas coast in late August, among the destruction was a Chevron Phillips Chemical Co. plant — the same plant that churns out the 12,000 pounds of polyethylene donated to the project every year.
Under water and under force majeure, the folks at Chevron Phillips said they weren't able to help this year. So Cooper started reaching out to other suppliers. Given the breadth of the destruction in the Houston area, most remained under their own force majeure conditions, and were unable to help.
"I was just devastated," Cooper said. "It would have been the first time since 1999 that we wouldn't have donated toys."