Let's help spread joy of Christmas

Friday, September 24, 2004

Thanks to the generosity of the people of the Golden Plains and the hard work of dedicated volunteers, the McCook "Toy Box" has become one of the most successful community Christmas gift programs in the nation.

Yes, we know, that's a mighty powerful claim, but once you know about the program, and become involved, we believe you will agree.

From a tiny start 38 years ago -- when one bicycle and one wagon were given away -- the Toy Box has grown into an region-wide program that distributes Christmas gifts to 750 children from throughout Southwest Nebraska and Northwest Kansas.

The neat thing is that -- on distribution day -- no questions are asked. Children and their parents just show up and choose their gifts. As a result, the Toy Box last year distributed 135 bicycles, 28 wagons, 42 tricycles, 13 scooters and a multitude of stuffed animals and small toys.

Now, it's time to prepare for 2004. "Santa Bill" Stewart, who spearheads the toy campaign, will be in Norris Park all day Saturday and Sunday, selling raffle tickets as a means of raising funds for the Toy Box.

Dollar chances are being offered on a brand new John Deere pedal tractor, donated by Don and Linda Lafferty. The giveaway rig also includes a cart, repainted by Dick Webb and the crew at Webb Body Shop. There'll also be a drawing for a four-foot tall Winnie the Pooh stuffed animal, with tickets selling for just 50 cents apiece.

But, of course, you're welcome to give more as the needs are great for the expanding Toy Box program. The Heritage Days celebration is an appropriate time to kick off the Toy Box campaign. "We will be getting started with bike and trike repairs and toy fix-up on Oct. 4," Santa Bill said. With help from Rex Morell and Bob McBride, as well as crews from the Work Ethic Camp, Santa Bill will be working steadily getting the toys ready for the Sunday, Dec. 12, giveaway.

"We will be moving back to the National Guard Armory this year," Santa Bill said. That was the original place for toy distribution, but the giveaway had to be moved to the Junior High the past few years because of post-9/11 security concerns.

The Toy Box is one of the nicest and most generous programs we do in this area. Let's do our part to help Santa Bill and the many volunteers. Buy some raffle tickets, and drop a few extra dollars in the donation jar. By so doing, you will help spread Christmas joy to children who might otherwise have to do without.

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