Dec 16, 2016 • By

Selfless wish triggers new school playground

It’s not every day that we see Box Tops on children’s wish lists to Santa.

Those lists are usually chock-full of requests for Xboxes, puzzles, iPads, bikes, scooters, dolls or the trendiest toys of the season.


Hauns’ letter to Santa in the Hannibal Courier-Post. Photo credit: Hannibal Courier-Post.

But for a shy first grade boy in Hannibal, Missouri, there was only one request in his letter to Santa that he submitted to the local newspaper as part of a class project – 1 billion Box Tops for his school.

Elaine Henderson, 14-year veteran lead operator at our Hannibal plant, noticed the letter in the paper and was touched. She immediately shared it with the plant manager, Becky Crane, in hopes that together they could acknowledge the selflessness and kindness of the young boy’s simple Christmas wish.


Members of the Hannibal plant team who helped make Hauns’ wish a reality: Becky Crane, Hannibal plant manager; Elaine Henderson, lead operator; Mike Will, plant maintenance mechanic; and Stacy Giltner, HR Business Associate.

In a blink of an eye, members of the plant community, Box Tops for Education and the General Mills Global Communications teams staged a surprise visit. They attended the all-school assembly yesterday at the boy’s school, St. John’s Lutheran.


Hauns and Mike Will, 13-year veteran plant maintenance mechanic, also known as “Santa.”

The visitors arrived with Santa and a gift to the school – 100,000 Box Tops worth $10,000. The donation will allow the humble, historic school to complete a playground renovation slated to begin in the spring of 2017.

Hear from some of the people who helped bring Hauns’ Christmas wish to life, in this video.

“I thought my team would cut out 100 Box Tops and deliver them to the school ourselves,” said Elaine. “I wasn’t anticipating that we could donate such an impactful amount. It’s incredible.”


Santa brought sacks full of Box Tops to the school assembly.

“I am proud and inspired to be a part of this team of nearly 1,000 employees here,” Becky said.

“Together we were able to do something for this community that honestly had us all in tears before we walked into the school this morning,” she added.


Hannibal Plant Manager Becky Crane presents a check to St. John’s Lutheran Principal, Ann Lear.

“[I asked for Box Tops] because I want to help the school,” said Hauns.

The boy’s family told us that this wasn’t out of the norm for Hauns, who loves to give gifts and often sees value in the things where others may not.

Hear from Hauns, plus his teacher and principal, in this KHQA News video.


Hauns was interviewed by local news stations about his Christmas wish come true.

“Hauns is my little explorer and collector, and he likes a challenge,” said Kristi Bradshaw, Hauns’ first grade teacher at St. John’s Lutheran. “For him, it was just a natural process to collect Box Tops too.”

There will undoubtedly be plenty of enthusiastic interest when the playground renovations are completed this spring.  For years, the dated and relatively sparse playground has served the neighborhood and surrounding community after school hours and on weekends. New, updated equipment will benefit many children and families and be a welcome addition.


The assembly ended with students singing Jingle Bells right alongside plant employees while Santa was swarmed with excited children eager to share their Christmas wishes.

“The more we can do to help one another out, the better things are going to be for all of us,” said Ann Lear, principal of St. John’s Lutheran School.

Editor’s Note: The photo at the top of this blog post was provided by the Hannibal Courier-Post.

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