Toy drive appears to be success in valley

Although it started slowly, this year’s Christmas toy drive is picking up steam as it approaches its collection deadline Wednesday.

“Some barrels we’re emptying more than once a day,” Gary Blackman said of the many barrels set up around Mesa County to collect Christmas toys.

Lions Clubs across the valley pitched in with The Salvation Army this season to pick up where the Marine Corps’ Toys for Tots drive left off when Marine organizers determined they couldn’t do it this year.

Donors haven’t missed a beat, regularly dropping off toys and other needed items, said Blackman, a past president of the Orchard Mesa Lions Club.

“We’ve had much better response this year than we did last year,” said Jason Glenn, manager of Walgreen’s at 2900 North Ave., where shoppers had filled a bucket at the front of the store and surrounded a tree at the pharmacy in the back of the store with gifts.

It hasn’t been only shoppers who have participated.

Toys collected by more than 1,000 students at Grand Valley high schools, Mesa State College, Western Colorado Community College and First Student, which provides transportation to School District 51, dropped off toys Friday at The Salvation Army headquarters, 1235 N. Fourth St.

Students at the Job Corps Center in Collbran helped out, donating from their own pockets for the toy drive, Collbran Lions Club President Manny Sanchez said. When the Job Corps students learned the Collbran Lions Club was participating, they collected money over two pay periods, totaling $800, which will go to The Salvation Army and the Collbran Lions.

“Some of those kids are making only a $14-a-month stipend,” Sanchez said.

The Job Corps students will formally make their donation next week to The Salvation Army before heading to their homes Thursday, Sanchez said.

“It makes you more appreciative,” Sanchez said. “All these kids get is a bus ticket home, and yet they’re ready to take money they don’t have and give it to the kids here.”


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