Toys campaign aims to bring holiday joy to children
Every child likes unwrapping gifts on Christmas Day, and Toys for Tots wants to ensure that happens.
Once again, the Stevens Point Morning Rotary Club-coordinated Toys for Tots collection is underway with about 50 different drop-off sites in Stevens Point and Plover, as well as a drop-off location at Central Wisconsin Electric Cooperative (CWEC), 10401 Lystul Road, Rosholt, for donors on the east and northern portion of Portage County.
“We have been very blessed with what we’ve received from the community and individuals,” said Stevens Point-Plover area Program Coordinator Charles Grugel of the Rotary Club. “This is a great community to be a part of. You really see the generosity – it’s been fantastic.”
Already, Oso Company contributed thousands of dollars through a fundraiser two weeks ago to the cause – the Rotary Club members went on a shopping spree last week, purchasing toys, books, stocking stuffers and gifts valued at more than $7,000 from Oso’s efforts.
All donated dollars and new toys given to the Toys for Tots program stay in the local community, distributed to children in need identified by local organizations such as the Salvation Army and Operation Bootstrap.
“I look forward to it every year,” said Dana Kaminski, director of housing and case management at Salvation Army, which provided toys to 150 families last year through the help of Toys for Tots. “Both the parents and children are overjoyed with the toys.”
Last year, more than 3,600 toys were given, which provided two to three toys to nearly 1,400 children in the area.
“It’s a wonderful community response for people in need,” Operation Bootstrap Director Roseann DeBot said. “When you read the statistics on poverty for (central) Wisconsin, it’s kind of scary.”
For example, according to recently released statistics, DeBot said, more than 50 percent of those in the Almond area report financial struggling, and near Stevens Point in the village of Park Ridge, more than 40 percent of people are struggling.
Donated toys should be brand new and in original boxes or containers. Items like stuffed animals are not accepted unless they are in original wrapping. Items DeBot said she sees being requested include a variety of art supplies and crafts for preteens ages 11 to 13, dolls of all types, board games and specifically the newer version of Life board game.
Kaminski said parents – who through Salvation Army get to choose their child(ren)’s gifts from the collection – struggle with teens. Gift cards can help and can be dropped directly at Salvation Army.
People wishing to provide toys can do so at a variety of locations in Stevens Point and Plover areas until Dec. 11 and at the CWEC through Dec. 9. Toys for Tots collection boxes will be picked up Monday, Dec. 12.
WSPT’s Christmas is for Children, Plover Area Business Association’s (PABA) Christmas Presents from the Heart Campaign along with churches and schools also contribute to holiday gifts for children, DeBot said.
One of the best ways to donate is through financial contributions, Grugel said. The Rotary Club receives store discounts and can purchase toys tax exempt, which allows the dollar donated to stretch further, he said.
When the Rotary Club members use the donated funds to shop, they receive updated lists of toy requests to ensure toys and books purchased are what children and families are needing, he said.
Donated money can be directed specifically to Stevens Point or the Northern Portage County Toys for Tots program through the Toys for Tots website. To donate to the Stevens Point area program, visit stevens-point-wi.toysfortots.org/local-coordinator-sites/lco-sites/default.aspx. To donate to the northern Portage County program, visit iola-wi.toysfortots.org/local-coordinator-sites/lco-sites/default.aspx. In each website, click on “Make a Donation.”
For a list of drop-off sites, visit stevens-point-wi.toysfortots.org/local-coordinator-sites/lco-sites/donate-toys.aspx and click on the upper link “Toy Drop-Offs.”
The Rotary Club of Greater Portage County has teamed up with United States Marine Corps Reserve and the Central Wisconsin Detachment of the Marine Corp League to sponsor the annual Toys for Tots campaign in Portage County for several years.
Since 1947, with a homemade doll as the first toy, Marines have been working to make Christmas wishes come true for needy children. The Marines and the local Toys for Tots team work to make sure every child in need receives a quality Christmas toy, which would not be possible without the help of concerned community members and business leaders.
Last year, total revenue for the Marine Toys for Tots program reached more than $273 million, the second best year ever experienced. Records were set in direct mail, and website donations.