LOGAN – Toys for Tots in Logan is busy this time of year, said Doug Stipes, this year’s coordinator for the Marine Corps-sponsored charity.
The organization, housed in a Cache Valley Food Pantry building, is chuck full of black plastic garbage bags stuffed with toys for children in Cache, Box Elder, Rich, Franklin and Bear Lake counties. Each bag has a child’s name attached to it.
“We are grateful for the help and support from the people at the Cache Food Pantry,” Stipes said. “They send over a forklift and help when we need it.”
The group covers over 500 square miles, bringing Christmas to children in need.
“We formed as an attachment in 2010,” Stipes said. “Last year, we gave out 6,850 gifts to children who may have not had a Christmas.”
The Logan group gets stuffed animals customers at Pet Smart donate for the cause.
“We start organizing things in October, and continue in until Christmas,” Stipes said. “We get requests from paper and online applications.”
They package the goods and call people to pick them up when things are ready.
“We have families come in and help fill bags with toys for a family service project,” Stipes said. “They have to call and schedule an appointment, so we don’t have too many people at the same time.”
It’s cool to see them all get involved, he said.
Al Lieske, last year’s coordinator, said it has been a pretty inspiring nine years. He started helping with the charity in the beginning.
They were running behind one year, so he decided to deliver Christmas to a family with five children. The head of the house was a single mother and they were in humble shape.
“I came to the door and put the bags on the porch and rang the bell,” he said. “The mother opened the door then dropped to her knees and thanked God for us.”
Another time he was picking up collection jars in Smithfield and found a letter written in broken English.
“It said we are blessing children with food and toys,” Lieske said. “Then it said we were angels from God.”
Those experiences inspire him to keep doing the Toys for Tots program.
They have 100 to 200 families from Utah State University who seek some help with Christmas. They never know for sure until it’s over how many student families need help.
Carlton Brown, from Hyde Park, is a big player in the local Toys for Tots. He is their number one recruiter. He retrieves collection boxes from stores and brings them to the warehouse.
They are in the final stages of the season and after Christmas, they will take inventory and box everything up for next year.
To donate or seek assistance, go to toysfortots.org