Stryten Energy Team Members Making a Difference in Their Community – Mike Bergen
When Mike Bergen heard a radio news report in 1994 that the City Union Mission in Wyandotte County had been broken into, and all the Christmas toys were stolen, he sprang into action. Within 30 minutes, he had collected nearly $400 for the Union Mission.
That was just the beginning.
Mike Bergen, a 31-year company veteran at Stryten Energy’s Kansas City, KS, plant, delivers thousands of toys to kids in need during the Christmas holidays. In 1994, he established Hands to Heart, a not-for-profit and volunteer organization that delivers toys to low-income families throughout Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and South Dakota. In the first year, he served approximately 50 kids. Today, his organization delivers toys to more than 11,000 kids in need during the holiday season.
“It’s Christmas, man. Getting together, putting smiles on little kids’ faces. Children are what it’s about,” said Mike.
Mike’s program has grown so much that his organization is able to deliver toys to children in need throughout the year, not only during the holiday season. Hands to Heart reaches out to families that have suffered through natural disasters such as flooding and tornadoes, as well as those impacted by house fires, domestic violence or financial hardships.
Bergen holds motorcycle rides to collect toys and funds. Instead of charging an entry fee for these events, he asks riders to “bring as many toys as your hawg will haul!” The “Night Train Runs” are typically held twice a year. Mike is known as the “Toy Man,” for his significant impact on his community. In 2015, he was named one of the top three of the 20 Kindest Kansas Citians.