Large tubs, totes and pallets are being sold as a way to help raise money for the Dreams for Kids Foundation. The items are left over products from Tuffy’s in Perham. 

By Chad Koenen


A group of local volunteers are transforming trash into a dream come true for local children. 

The items come from left over products from Tuffy’s in Perham. The items are given to an employee who turns around and sells the items for the Dreams for Kids program. The money raised by that organization is used to grant wishes to local children in need to do things like go to Disney World, buy dream items for their home, or anything their heart desires. 

Wanda Smith, who is one of the organizers of the local Dreams for Kids program said John Lex and Mike Vandenberg received permission from Tuffy’s several years ago to take items that cost the company too much money to get rid of, or send back, and sell them. The proceeds from the sale would then benefit a local organization in need like the Dreams for Kids program. 

Lex said the partnership with his work has been a win-win for everyone involved.

“I get the stuff from work at Tuffy’s pet food. We just resell it and give Dreams for Kids all of the money,” said Lex. 

This year alone, Lex and a group of local volunteers helping with the program, has raised approximately $7,000 for the Dreams for Kids program. 

“This is our best year for selling stuff and making money,” said Lex.

Lex said the group typically raises anywhere from $1,800-2,500 a year selling the tubs and pallets. Last year they raised $4,200 and hope to raise enough money some day to full fund one wish for a local child. In order to achieve that goal the group will need to raise about $10,000. 

Smith credited the work of Vandenberg and Lex to help get the program to where it is today. 

“If they donate $10,000 over the course of the year that is one full wish for a kid,” said Smith. “He’s done a lot of work to get where he is at and traveled a lot of miles.”

In order to help sell more of the items he gets from his work, Lex enlisted the help of several auction companies like Bachmann Auctioneers and Perala Brothers Auctioneers. Those partnerships have really helped as they are having their best year ever selling the items, even during the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Peanuts” Perala got involved with the program after asking where Lex was getting all of the pallets and totes he had on hand. 

“John had some of these heavy green pallets and I asked him where he got them from,” said Perala. 

After learning about what Lex used the money for, Perala offered to sell some of the totes, pallets and barrels at the Perala Brothers Auctions in order to help raise even more money for the Dreams for Kids program.

“I told him I would start selling them for him as long as the money goes to Dreams for Kids.”  

“Peanuts” Perala

Perala sells the items free of charge for the group and mentions how the proceeds from the sale benefit local children in need throughout the day.

The cost of the items are inexpensive as barrels typically sell for $10 apiece and pallets vary in price. The barrels have been selling so quickly of late that a load of 50 barrels can be sold in just 10 days or so. 

“It isn’t about price gouging,” said Lex. 

The group is selling everything from food grade totes to pallets, steel cans and barrels. 

Perala will post about some of the items available on his Facebook page and anyone is invited to send him a message on Facebook should they see an item they would like to purchase. The items are also routinely available for purchase at Perala Brothers and Bachmann Auctions throughout the region.

About Dreams for Kids

The local Dreams for Kids chapter works with the Make a Wish Minnesota program and provides dreams and opportunities for children who find themselves facing critical illness. Several local children have been on the receiving end of the wishes over the years, and the money raised by the local chapter directly benefits the wishes for local children. 

The organization hosts a motorcycle ride each year to help raise money for the local Dreams for Kids program. There is also typically a live auction and other fundraising opportunities as well. 

For more information about the local Dreams for Kids program, check them out on Facebook.