Toys For Tots Drive Secures Double Amount of Items
Thanks to owners of The Wallach House Antique Store in Eureka who spearheaded others, many more families are getting relief this holiday season. Sixteen area businesses and city officials served as collection points this year.
An impressive total of 753 toys got donated from Eureka businesses to the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve's annual Toys for Tots program Friday morning. In addition, $118 in cash was donated. Sgt. Gavin Lewis of the U.S. Marines, said he was going to use the money to go shopping Friday evening specifically for teen-oriented gifts to add to the campaign.
Laurie Price, of The Wallach House Antiques, said they would like to extend a special thanks to the customers and teams at Jefferson Bank & Trust and Comprehensive Chiropractic Wellness Center for their generosity and extra work on the campaign. The staff at Carol's Hallmark also donated 80 Christmas cards to send to U.S. Marine soldiers.
This was the third year that the staff of The Wallach House spearheaded this campaign for the Eureka community.
"Picking up 15 boxes' worth of items is truly phenomenal, given the poor economy," said Lewis, the Marine who coordinates the Toys For Tots effort in St. Louis. "This is a lot more than I expected."
Lewis said 200,000-plus toys were collected last December.
"Sometimes people say 'we need a bunch of boxes, like 50' but when we get there to pick up the donated items, there might only be 10 full boxes; which is fine because it all helps," said Lewis.
"But what we experienced here in Eureka this year is fantastic."
Customers and employees of the following other Eureka businesses and city offices, in addition to The Wallach House crew, made this toy drive happen:
- PNC Bank
- Farmers & Merchants Bank
- First Community National Bank
- Eureka City Hall
- The Eureka Parks and Recreation Department
- Greg Tainter of Shelter Insurance
- Eureka Fire Protection District
- Eureka Police Department
- Dragonfly Designs
- Great Midwest Antique Mall
- Eureka Chamber of Commerce
- Solid Rock Kaffee Haus
- Carol's Hallmark
Lewis said the toys would be stored in a warehouse in Hazelwood, MO, until they could be sorted by age and gender. Family requests for Toys For Tots items come from a variety of means, such as directly online, social workers, church teams, battered shelter staffers, and school district representatives, he said.
"I recommend that people register through one of the organizations that assist in this area, rather than try to contact as individuals," Lewis said. "That way, sometimes the social organizations can help people in more ways than just with toys. For example, if someone has a 8-year-old still sleeping in a baby crib, maybe a social worker knows of someone who has a bed they would trade for the crib."
Lewis said oftentimes people can receive financial guidance. "This year, we're getting more requests from middle-class people are unemployed. They have been paying their bills, but now are faced with whether they will skip a month of bills or skip buying toys for their children," he said.
Lewis also said they have gotten many more requests this year than ever before from residents living in areas surrounding St. Louis County.
"It has been an honor to work with the Marines and with all who helped make this drive a success," said Mary Wallach.
"Thanks to everyone for coming together as a community to help these boys and girls who would otherwise not have Christmas presents to open," said Price. "We know this is not the only charitable cause asking for donations, and it's been a tough year for charities. But people in Eureka stepped up."
Price said next year they "plan to go crazy" and try to again double the amount of toys collected.