Boyd Jorgensen knows the importance of the Toys for Tots program firsthand. That's why the former U.S. Marine sergeant brought the program to the Kenai Peninsula last year.
"I got Toys for Tots when I was a kid and I know it helped my family out quite a bit," said Jorgensen, current operations manager at Lynden Transport Inc. in Soldotna.
Last year, Toys for Tots serviced more than 450 families, he said.
The program is now off and running in its second year, sponsored by the Marine Corps with many local businesses acting as area drop sites.
Johna Beech also knows the importance of Toys for Tots in the community.
When she was a child, her grandfather would take her and her siblings and cousins to purchase toys to donate to the program, she said. That's why she helped coordinate the effort with Jorgensen last year, and why she's involved again.
She said they collected some 800 toys last year and are hoping to exceed that amount for this Christmas.
The gift of having Toys for Tots on the Peninsula is that all toys and cash donated here, stay here.
They're "all distributed here locally," Jorgensen said. "Families in need can come and pick up toys for Christmas for their kids."
There have been toys collected on the Peninsula in the past, he said, but they were shipped to Anchorage to be distributed by the Marine Corps there.
This year the Marine Corps has partnered with the Salvation Army again for its gift program. Apart from gifts, the Salvation Army's program also provides clothes and food for families around the holidays.
"It's a group effort for the whole community," he said.
Toys for Tots also has a few fundraising events scheduled for this year, Beech said.
Tonight at the Kenai River Brown Bears game the organization will be selling stuffed animals to throw into a Hummer on the ice during the first period break. The ones closest to the vehicle will be eligible for prizes. All proceeds will go to the organization.
On Dec. 11, there will be dinner and live music at Hooligans Saloon in Soldotna for $20 a pop. All of that money will go towards Toys for Tots, as well.
Drop sites are located at Spenard Builders Supply stores in Kenai, Soldotna, Seward and Homer; Hey Good Lookin'; Midas; First National Bank of Alaska Kenai, Soldotna, Seward and Homer branches; the Kenai and Soldotna chambers of commerce; Hobbies, Crafts, and Games; Homer Electric Association; Kenai Visitors Center; Central Peninsula Hospital; the Peninsula Clarion; Stanley Ford; and Computer Renaissance. The boxes will be collected the weekend of Dec. 17.
Cash donations can be given to Jorgensen at Lynden Transport. Those in need of toys or help at Christmas can contact Jorgensen at 252-6285 or fill out a form online at toysfortotskenaipeninsula.com or go to the Salvation Army and sign up there, as well. Any one wishing to volunteer with the program can also call Jorgensen.
Brielle Schaeffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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