Toys for Troops comedy show hits the stage

Published 8:07 am Friday, December 10, 2010

Mower County residents can get a gas out of Scott Hansen and the Stagebenders Friday night at the American Legion in Adams at 7 p.m. as part of their Toys for Troops Comedy Tour.

Hansen, a five-time Minnesota Comedian of the Year Award winner, is the creative mind behind the Toys For Troops Comedy Tour, a charity show which has raised more than $200,000 in Christmas gifts for the families of soldiers currently serving overseas.

“The toys that people bring in, they go right back into the people that are serving in that community,” Hansen said. “For years I did shows at major charities, and you never know quite where the money’s going, but this charity has all the toys going back to the community.”

Email newsletter signup

He originally got the idea from his father Don, who served in Italy during World War II.

Don had to stay behind to help pay for the cost of mules he’d used to help clear out a minefield, Scott said. Don, who’d played baseball for the Milwaukee Brewers (under the American Association) for a while, wrote to Brewers owner Bill Veeck asking for some baseball equipment for the troops. Veeck sent enough new baseball equipment to field two teams, according to Scott.

As Scott told this story to the post commander at the VFW in Ham Lake, which bears Don’s name, Scott came up with the idea to do something for troops serving today. The soldiers sitting at the VFW told him it would be much better for Scott to help soldiers’ families.

“They told me, ‘Take care of our families,’” Scott said. “Make sure the families had things for Christmas.”

Since then, Scott and the Stagebenders (Gust Alexander and Kim Thomassen) have done several shows at the VFW in Ham Lake for several years. This year, they’re taking the tour on the road, hitting up several VFWs across the state that applied, which includes Adams.

They’ve been fairly successful, getting standing ovations everywhere they go, according to Hansen. After one show, Scott and the others went to Target to buy $10,000 in gift cards. Once the employees found out what they were doing, they contributed another $500 in gift cards too.

“Everything we do, the money that we raise, goes right to the community. We give to the VFW members who disperse it to the community,” Scott said.

There’s no word on whether he’ll continue to tour around the state, but Scott is following in his father’s footsteps. As Scott recalls, the Italians were very fond of Don despite the loss of several mules.

“When they were done, the Italians thought he was a hero, because they were able eat meat for dinner,” Scott said. “My father told me it was great, because the Italians all had a nice piece of ass that night.”