Milwaukee Child Advocacy Center
Bekah Lustig, a creative services manager for Athea Laboratories in Milwaukee, collects children’s toys and books for the Milwaukee Child Advocacy Center. Lustig is joined in the efforts by her husband, Joshua Scarver

Professionally, Bekah Lustig acts as the creative services manager for Athea Laboratories of Milwaukee. But when she isn't giving her employer her all, Bekah and her husband Joshua Scarver are often working to better the lives of others by collecting toys, books and other child-friendly items for abused children in the Greater Milwaukee Area.

The couple spearheads this drive for the Milwaukee Child Advocacy Center (CAC), whose team of specially trained professionals investigate cases of child maltreatment.

"The donated items help provide security and reassurance to kids," says Bekah. "Each child that visits the center is offered a toy and a book to make a stressful situation a bit more comfortable."

Bekah and Joshua started this program in 2008, inspired by Bekah's cousin who was a police officer working with children that experienced neglect and abuse.

"My heart goes out to these kids. I can't imagine living like that," says Bekah. "We wanted to organize a donation drive of some kind, and my cousin suggested the Child Advocacy Center. That first year, we collected 40 items."

In its second year, the toy and book drive expanded to four collection sites. It's grown steadily, receiving more than 5,000 items during one of the drives. The results of the most recent drive, which took place throughout the city from Nov. 1 to Dec. 31, 2019, have not yet been calculated.

CAC also collects other items for the kids, such as clothing, school supplies and toiletries.

"One lady knitted 24 scarves last year for the kids," says Bekah. "She puts a little ribbon with the crafter's name on each of the handmade items so that the children know there is a real person who cares about them. Through this program, we hope that the kids get the message that they are special and loved."

In 2019, the couple started a new initiative and created the opportunity for people to make monetary donations. In the first year of this practice the CAC received $615 — money that will be used to buy things like socks, underwear and t-shirts.

Bekah and her husband find it hard that they are unable to interact with the kids they help due to privacy and safety rules. However, they still know what they're doing is helping.

"For us, leading this effort is all about being inspired to follow our dreams, and inspiring other people to give," says Bekah.

Gretchen Roufs, a 25-year janitorial supply industry veteran, owns a marketing and public relations company in San Antonio. To suggest someone you think should be featured in "Freetime," contact her at