Twice as many families ask for Toys for Tots donations

Photo by Gretel Daugherty—Mike Allen, right, hands U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Kevin Spiwak one of the toy trucks that he is donating to Toys For Tots at his store Toys for the Fun of It, 519 Main St., during the campaign’s kickoff Thursday. Allen and his wife Karin donated more than $4,000 worth of toys to the program, which has twice as many applications this year for toys than last year. Toys For Tots is seeking toys and clothing for children from newborn to 18 years old.

Twice as many Grand Junction families as last year have requested donations from the Toys for Tots program this year.

Greg Merschel, who coordinates the annual Toys for Tots drive in eight counties, said the program will have to make sure there are no duplicate requests before announcing a final total. The program, organized by U.S. Marines nationwide, collects an average of 3,500 to 4,500 toys each year in Grand Junction, he said.

Merschel’s territory stretches into Rifle, Glenwood Springs and Montrose. Requests for toys in these towns as well are at levels Merschel has never seen before.

“I’m getting calls from as far away as Alamosa,” he said.

Toys for the Fun of It, 519 Main St., donated $4,000 worth of toys to Toys for Tots on Thursday, and the local Veterans Motor Car Club gave the program $1,000 in memory of Bob Strobl.

Strobl is the father of Lt. Col. Michael Strobl, a Grand Junction High School graduate who wrote a short story and Emmy-winning script about escorting the body of Palisade High School graduate Chance Phelps home to Wyoming after Phelps was killed in combat in Iraq in 2004.

Toys for Tots will collect toys, diapers and clothing donations at 40 drop-box sites in the Grand Valley. Merschel said the group likely will take donations as late as Dec. 24.


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