Toys for Tots program accepts donations to brighten holidays for children in county
LAPEER COUNTY — Last year Christmas was a little brighter for more than 1,600 economically disadvantaged children in Lapeer County who received gifts thanks to the generosity of strangers through the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program.
This year, with unemployment in Lapeer County still topping 18 percent, local Toys for Tots coordinator Michael Havermale is expecting an equally high demand for donations this Christmas season.
“Last year we collected and distributed more than $20,000 worth of toys to boys and girls in Lapeer County. From what we’re hearing, the number of people and households that are struggling is even more than last year, so we hope people lend a hand to help out,” Havermale said.
On average, each eligible child last year was given four gifts.
“It’s very emotional, because you have to understand for some of these children the gifts from Toys for Tots are the only things they’ll get for Christmas,” Havermale said. “Christmas is a time for giving and sharing, and that’s what this is all about. I ask people to think about others when they’re shopping. If they can afford to pick up a toy for Toy for Tots, they will be making some children very happy Christmas morning.”
The North Branch resident and commanding officer of the Eastern Michigan Young Marines is in his second year of coordinating the collection and distribution of Toys for Tots in Lapeer and Sanilac counties.
The mission of the Toys for Tots program is to collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December. Large cardboard collection boxes are beginning to show up in business lobbies and churches throughout the county, including at The County Press and View Newspapers office on Imlay City Road in Lapeer Township.
While the list of collection sites is continually growing, current locations include: Oregon United Methodist Church on German Road in Columbiaville; Edward Jones Investments on Davison Road in Lapeer; Lapeer Medical Associates on Baldwin Road in Lapeer; Roadside Attractions on S. Lapeer Road (M-24) in Metamora Township; Karen’s Sunflower Café on M-24 in Metamora Township; and Merollis Cadillac GMC on West Genesee in Lapeer.
Havermale works in conjunction with Holiday Depot and United Way and local charitable organizations in the collection and distribution of toys for children in Lapeer County.
Toys will be collected through the weekend of Dec. 18-20.
“Last year the greatest need seemed to be for children ages 1-3 as well as those 12-14 ... I’m just very impressed how the community came together to support the program, because all of the toys donated here stay here in Lapeer County,” Havermale said.
In addition to toy donations, residents and businesses may also make tax deductible financial donations to: Toys for Tots, PO Box 332, Lapeer, MI 48446.
“Last year Tom Holland of Holland Plumbing & Heating came through in a big way. He donated $6,000 toward Toys for Tots, $2,000 that went toward the purchase of toys for children in Lapeer County while $4,000 supported Genesee County children where the company is based,” Havermale said.
“In addition, CMS Oil on Lake Nepessing Road and Dort Federal Credit Union were big supporters of the program. I would welcome additional business and corporate support.”
Havermale said donated money intended for holiday gifts is spent at Lapeer County businesses to support the local economy.
To become a collection site for Toy for Toys or for any additional information, call Havermale at 810-688- 8025 or by e-mail at Toys- For-Tots@msn.com.