Saturday night November 30th was Kenai River Brown Bears Toys for Tots night sponsored by Peninsula Harley Davidson at the Soldotna Sports Center. At the end of the first period an enthusiastic crowd that had purchased stuffed animals with tags attached tossed the toys at a National Guard Humvee escorted by U.S. Marines who had volunteered for the fuzzy fire duty. Unfortunately the Brown Bears didn’t do as well as the Toys for Tots campaign loosing to the Fairbanks Ice Dogs. The Toys for Tots Toss however was a great success with the holiday spirit continuing following the game at the Duck Inn where those over 21 joined festive events with all proceeds going to the Toys for Tots cash drive.
“This year’s drive went from Oct 1 – Dec 7th and as of Monday, Dec 9th we collected 895 toys. We have been receiving toys all week long and it looks like we will tip the toy count with over 1200 toys this year. The Toy Toss at the Harley Davidson Brown Bears game brought in $1,400 and the After Party hosted at The Duck Inn brought in an additional $800 which gave us over $2,000 cash to spend here locally to buy new toys for kids in our community,” said Johna Beech who has volunteered to organize the Toys for Tots campaign along with Staff Sgt. Rehm of the U.S. Marines. “We partner with Staff Sgt. Rehm who is the U.S. Marine Recruiter at the Peninsula Center Mall and envoy Craig and Jeanne Fanning of the Salvation Army to handle the distribution across the Peninsula. We have other volunteers like Cassandra Winslow, Yvonne Oren, January Yaeger and Mike Crawford who have helped with a lot of the behind the scenes work that goes on picking up the toys at the drop off locations, managing the data base, just so many people that get involved in this program to make it a success. I asked one of the Marines why he was so willing to work so hard during his leave time and he replied that when he was a kid one of the only gifts he got was a new toy from Toys for Tots and he knows what it can mean to a kid. My grandfather was a Marine and would always take us shopping for Toys for Tots when I was growing up, that’s why I get involved because it was even better than getting a toy myself and taught me the joy of giving back. So a huge shout out to our local Marines, all of our sponsors Peninsula Harley Davidson, Kenai River Brewery, the Duck Inn and everyone who contributed to the Toys for Tots making this such a great year, it’s amazing what we can do together,” said Beech.