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Toy haul smaller this year for Toys for Tots campaign in DeKalb

Steven Scoughton receives donated toys from Chelsea Born (left), 8, and her grandmother Nancy Rohler (right) during a Toys for Tots drive Saturday outside the Walmart Supercenter in DeKalb.
Steven Scoughton receives donated toys from Chelsea Born (left), 8, and her grandmother Nancy Rohler (right) during a Toys for Tots drive Saturday outside the Walmart Supercenter in DeKalb.

People were giving toys to Toys for Tots at Walmart on Sunday, but the donations were not enough to fill their truck, as coordinators had planned.

Toys for Tots coordinator Stefan Kristen said so far this year has been one of the slowest years for donations so far in the 16 years that he has participated.

“I don’t know if people are having a hard time making ends meet,” Kristen said. “We’re not having the donations that we usually have.”

Toys for Tots has about 3,000 children (ages newborn to 17) registered for toy donations in DeKalb County.

They try to give three toys to each child, Kristen said. This year, however, Kristen doesn’t think they’ll be able to do that.

Walmart, 3M, and other local businesses donated monetary sums so that Toys for Tots could buy toys for the kids. The organization is allowed to buy toys priced up to $30 with the donated money.

Walmart front-end manager Terri Arendt said Walmart has a quota to donate each month to various organizations. The quota remains pretty standard year-round, she said.

More than 97 percent of Toys for Tots donated money goes toward the program. The rest goes towards fundraising and overhead.

Eleanor Crouse of DeKalb said she donated because she can afford to do it. She went to Walmart to go Christmas shopping for her family and her church, and then she noticed the Toys for Tots truck parked outside the store’s entrance.

Crouse donated four items to Toys for Tots.

“There are so many needy people out there,” Crouse said. “Other kids need to be happy, too.”

Katie Mangels of Keokuk, Iowa, was in town for three days to visit family. She donated a Nerf basketball hoop and a Littlest Pet Shop doll.

Even though Mangels struggles herself as a single mother, she said it is important to donate to others.

“I’m also a teacher in Keokuk, so I know about some kids that struggle,” Mangles said. “[Donating] is always something we try to do.”

Mangels’ daughter, 9-year-old Jordan Martindale, said it’s nice that her mom donates.

“She’s a good person, but this makes her even better,” Martindale said.

Bonnie Ruder found out about the Toys for Tots donation drive because she is in the 241st chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association, an organization in which coordinator Kristen also is a member.

“There shouldn’t be a kid without a Christmas present,” Ruder said. “I remember being a kid, and fortunately, we always had gifts under the tree. But not all kids are like that.”

Toys for Tots has donation boxes across the county. Some places include the Burger King on Lincoln Highway, the DeKalb County Public Library and Jewel-Osco on Sycamore Road. A full list can be found at

Donations will be accepted until Friday or Saturday, Kristen said. On that day, Toys for Tots will collect all the boxes and send them to 830 Grove St., The Salvation Army building. Afterward, donations still can be sent to The Salvation Army.

People still can register needy children until Thursday. They need to go to The Salvation Army building to do so. Toys for Tots will begin distributing toys Dec. 18.

To donate money or for information, visit You also can call Toys for Tots Coordinator Stefan Kristen at 815-762-2903.

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