SYH25: Honoring the campaign’s beginning

Mike Hart, campaign co-chair for 15 years, reflects on the early years and event’s transformation from 1996 to today.
Published: Dec. 1, 2020 at 6:02 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Share Your Holidays. It’s an idea that took off thanks to two Mikes: former NBC15 anchor Mike McKinney and then Wisconsin National Guard Captain Mike Hart.

“The very first drive, the day before, I got a call from the Deputy General of the Army National Guard,” recalls Hart, “Saying, ‘There’s a news guy on the phone. He wants to borrow a tent. Could you call him?’”

Hart remembers that first snowy morning in what is now the Metcalfe’s Hilldale parking lot.

“We got out there about 4:30 that morning, [there’s] about six inches of snow on the ground. There’s Mike [McKinney]. He’s not a cold weather person,” Hart shares fondly, “He doesn’t like the cold so he’s out there shivering. We show up with just a tent, that’s all they asked for. So I talked to one of my soldiers. Go get a table, some chairs, a heater.”

A single day food drive in 1996.

“As the day progressed, in between his live shots and talking with people, we just started brainstorming,” Hart remembers that first brainstorming session with McKinney, “Well next year we’ll get a bigger tent, and we’ll get more heaters... the grand finale was doing snow angels in the snow. And that was the very first day.”

A day that raised more than 50,000 meals. And it grew every year.

“Of course it makes you feel good, but we had such a great team,” says Hart, “Because of my military training, I was really his operations officer. He [Mike McKinney] was sort of our commanding general. He would come up with these ideas, and we’d sit around trying to figure it out.”

Hart retired as a lieutenant colonel with the guard, serving as co-chair of Share Your Holidays for about 15 years.

“It’s one of my prized moments in my life that I’ll always remember,” recalls Hart as he discusses how the campaign has evolved, “I’ve just seen the whole NBC15 crew and at Second Harvest, you guys own it now. You are Mike. You do it, and the enthusiasm you bring to it. It brings a smile to my face.”

From 50,000 to more than 50 million meals. It’s something he knows would mean the world to his friend.

“He’d have that huge grin, that big smile. He would be pinching himself,” says Hart with a smile himself, “I just don’t think he would believe it, but he would be very proud, no doubt he would be super proud.”

If you would like to participate in Share Your Holidays this year, please donate NBC15 Share Your Holidays Celebration Food Drive this Wednesday - you don’t even need to get out of your car. The event will be held at the Alliant Energy Center on Wednesday, December 2, from 2:30 - 7 p.m.

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