Record breaking Toys for Tots campaign

It appears with a little help from their friends the 2012 Toys for Tots Peninsula campaign will have broken all records for toys and cash contributions. On Monday, December 17th a group of Toys for Tots volunteers that included Yvonne Crew, Cassandra Winslow, and Dawni Giugler joined campaign organizers Johna Beech of the Kenai Chamber of Commerce and U.S. Marine Sgt. Joshua Rehm for a $2,000 Fred Myers toy shopping spree. “We blew the top off, no doubt this year broke all records for both cash and toys. We usually hover between 750 to 900 toys at the drop off locations but this year hit a record high of 1,103 toys brought in, and with the help of the $1,000 cash from the Soldotna Rotary, the Brown Bears teddy bear toss night and the Main Street bar Toys for Tots night the total cash contributions hit an all time high of nearly $4,000.  The cash contributions really help us because most folks tend to buy for the younger age kids and the cash lets us buy for older kids so they don’t get forgotten either,” said Johna Beech.

The previous night saw a group of Soldotna Elks in the Fred Myers toy department and they too were on a shopping spree for the Toys for Tots campaign.  Ryan Howlett, Soldotna Elks Club exalted ruler told the Dispatch his Elks decided they wanted to do something extra for Christmas this year, “So we pony’d up $2,500 and a group of us went out to Beemun’s and Fred Myers and did some toy shopping.  We waited for the bikes to go on sale and then bought six of them.  You know we all can remember the first bike we got for Christmas and it’s nice to be part of those life time memories. We set up quite a display here at the lodge, it’s going to be hard to part with them, but we’re here to put as much back into the community as possible. In addition to the $2,500 in toys we also donated $1,000 in gift cards to the Veterans clinic to be distributed and $6,000 in gift cards to local schools from Kasilof to Soldotna for distribution,” said Howlett.  The Elk shopper included Jennifer Judge, Lisa Humecky, Michelle Judice, Barb Davis, Rusty Davis, Angie Joy and Nellie Piatt.

“It was a fast year and surprising to be a record year, so a big shout out to each of the 27 business locations that sponsored a drop off location, everyone who volunteered,  or donated cash and of course to Sgt. Rehm for stepping up for the Marines so we could continue our local program.  Well done everyone!” said Beech. Sgt. Rehm added, “All the community support makes us all proud to be a Marine, but let me say first and foremost if I hadn’t been here I’m 100% confident that another Marine would have come forward and done the same thing.  This is a great pro-military support community with many former Marines in the area who would have happily stepped up even if I wasn’t around.”