Collbran Job Corps teams with valley’s service clubs to load up for toy drive

With thousands of toys in barrels behind them, Steve Stewart, left, with the Grand Junction Lions Club and Ed Tolen with the Fruita Lions Club unpack more toys from a bag for the Lions Clubs Toy Drive.

The idea of Christmas without toys struck a chord among students at the Job Corps Center in Collbran.

So, when the Collbran Lions Club decided to join in with the other Lions clubs in the Grand Valley, members didn’t have to look far for help from Job Corps students, who know something of missing out on Christmas.

“Some of us have been in foster care,” said Whitney Lafleur, while fellow student James Wright nodded.

Both are members of the student council at the Job Corps Center. They and two others, Trent Thomas and Alonzo Holder, traveled to Grand Junction on Wednesday to contribute $500 toward the Lions Club toy drive.

“We’ve got it made in Job Corps,” Lafleur said, “so we wanted to give something back.”

Job Corps students pitched in from their own pockets to raise money, which was matched by the student council.

The check, as well as the collection of toys, Easy-Bake ovens, footballs, basketballs, soccer balls, board games, Barbie dolls, stuffed toys and even spinning rods — the list goes on and on to more than 4,000 items collected in recent weeks —  began filling an empty downtown warehouse Wednesday.

Lions Club members gathered the items in one place as they prepared to arrange them for collections and eventual appearances beneath trees on Christmas morning.

The Lions and the Salvation Army joined forces this year when it became clear the U.S. Marine Corps’ Toys for Tots drive couldn’t proceed.

“How about this?” a jubilant Gary Blackman said, waving an arm toward dozens of buckets that shoppers had filled with toys. “This town is amazing.”

Blackman, an Orchard Mesa Lion, helped organize the drive along with Salvation Army Capt. Dan Wilson.

It looked as though there would be enough toys to fill stockings and dreams, Wilson said.

The Salvation Army’s angel trees at various locations around the Grand Valley still can be fulfilled, and the Salvation Army will accept toys through Christmas Eve at the Salvation Army office, 1235 N. Fourth St.


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