‘Tis the season for giving and what better way to give to a child in need than by donating a new or gently used toy during the annual Toys for Tots toy drive. Since 1948, the Hiawatha Valley Marines have helped spread Christmas cheer to children in need by collecting more than 50 million toys to put under the tree. Each holiday season, Marines place 65 recognizable Toys for Tots barrels in businesses throughout the county, and each year, according to Top Devil Dog Jim Eddy, the community support grows.
“This program helps us as Marines connect with the public, and the results we’ve seen since its inception have been outstanding,” Eddy said.
Last year, the area Toys for Tots drive gave 1,031 children something to smile about, and Eddy said he hopes to collect even more toys this year. Currently, toys that have been collected are being stored in the Southeast Technical College's Tandeski Center and are quickly overflowing the space.
The campaign has garnered hundreds of donations from local businesses including Shopko, Walmart, and Fleet Farm. Also, Winona resident Jim Frankard of the Frankard Foundation will provide each child with a handmade toy car.
“It’s just remarkable what Jim has done and his donation to this campaign is just excellent,” Eddy said.
Donations may be made at any Toys for Tots barrel in the county, and distribution of the collected items will be on Saturday, December 15 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Tandeski Center.
The Hiawatha Marine Valley Toys for Tots campaign is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit public charity that is funded with the help of the Winona Community Foundation.