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Toys for Tots 'light up children's eyes'
Brie Maaske
Antelope Staff

The holidays are coming, and when times are hard even Santa Claus needs a little extra help this time of year— which is where Toys for Tots comes in.

Toys for Tots is a nonprofit organization for which the Marine Corps Reserves collect toys every year between Nov. 1 and Dec. 11. With a little help from Santa, the toys are distributed to children, ages zero to 15, on Christmas morning.

The light in the children’s eyes is the bright reward for those who donate and those who volunteer, said Lance Cpl. David Swanson, coordinator and representative for the Kearney area Toys for Tots.

Delivering the toys Christmas morning is just as rewarding to the volunteers as it is to the children. “We went to one house, and the mom came out the door and said that her kids had been sitting in front of the window for the last two hours waiting. They knew we were coming. Just to see their eyes light up when they saw us through the window was just an amazing, really exciting feeling.”

This organization helps families in more than 600 communities across the United States each year. Toys reach more than 7 million children, including those in the Kearney area.

“In 2009, we donated to 19,000 kids in the state of Nebraska,” Swanson said.

With the current troubled economy, those numbers are growing quickly. “In the last two years, need has increased by 2,000 kids in the state of Nebraska alone,” Swanson said, “They have more kids than they do toys each year.”

Swanson said all the toys for the children are donations from people and businesses in the area, and the donations are distributed to children within the community from which they are collected.

Students can donate toys in the various drop boxes located throughout Kearney. Drop boxes are located at all three Pump & Pantry locations, Deterdings, Hilltop Mall and Armed Forces Career Center.

Toys for Tots will also be collecting donations at various events in Kearney over the next few weeks. “The day after Thanksgiving, we will be at the mall for the Black Friday shopping extravaganza, and we will be at four different hockey games in the main entrance on Nov. 16, Nov. 26 –27 and Dec. 11,” Swanson said.

“We are working on a soup supper for the month of November, with a silent auction. I am waiting to hear back from the guys that are doing the PBR to see if we will be out at the bull rodeo,” Swanson said.

Swanson also said that if students want to help with the soup supper or donations for the silent auction or even create an event of their own, they should contact him for more information at 293-8003.

After the toys are collected, they will go to Swanson's unit in Omaha where they will be sorted.

Next they will bring truckloads of toys back to the fairgrounds in Kearney. "Then people can go out to the fairgrounds on Christmas morning and deliver toys door to door,” Swanson said.

Toys for Tots : Campus dropboxes

*Founders Hall
*Student union
*Health and Sports Center
*West Center


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