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Toys for Tots seeking gifts for DeKalb County kids

Donation event sees lower participation than hoped

Volunteer Eileen Eckhardt, 9, with Girl Scout Troop 544, sorts donated toys by age and gender during the Toys For Tots drive Saturday at the DeKalb Walmart.
Volunteer Eileen Eckhardt, 9, with Girl Scout Troop 544, sorts donated toys by age and gender during the Toys For Tots drive Saturday at the DeKalb Walmart.

DeKALB – Kathi Hogshead Davis hoped to collect more than 500 toys for the Marine Corps Reserve’s Toys for Tots program Saturday at Walmart, 2300 Sycamore Road, DeKalb, but when the collection event ended, some boxes were nearly empty.

An hour before the event ended, organizers counted fewer than 60 toys. Davis, the DeKalb County Toys for Tots coordinator, speculated that the weather might have hindered people from donating. The temperature hovered around 45 degrees throughout the day.

“[Sunday] is supposed to be in the 50s and sunny,” Davis said, “but we plan these things weeks in advance.”

Although the participation was not as high as Davis would have liked, those who did donate, gave items including dolls and toy trucks.

Members of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve were on site to collect the toys.

Those who donated a minimum of $10 or a toy worth at least $10 were eligible to eat hot dogs and drink hot chocolate with Santa Claus in outdoor tents.  

There is always a need for toy donations in the area. Last year, DeKalb County Toys for Tots and The Salvation Army, which distributes the toys collected in DeKalb county, served more than 2,500 children from 988 families throughout the county.

Donation boxes for the toy drive are on display at businesses such as banks, restaurants, supermarkets and others in and around DeKalb County, including DeKalb, Sycamore, Genoa, Kirkland, Sandwich, Hinckley
and Somonauk.

The Salvation Army will distribute toys to needy families Dec. 17-18.

Trey Sherman, 10, of Cub Scout Pack 104 was assisting in the toy collections.

Sherman decided to help because he said it wasn’t fair that some families can’t afford toys for Christmas.

“Kids all over the world can get toys, but it’s not all over the world if some people can’t get them,” he said. “Usually, I get toys for Christmas, and it brings me joy. For kids who don’t have money, [Christmas is] a normal day for them; it’s nothing special. But with Toys for Tots, it’s special for them now, too.”

The tip jar was almost filled to the brim with people donating single bills and even some $20 bills.

Sycamore resident LouAnn Ambrozewski donated. Her son is a Marine.

Ambrozewski said she was raised to help other people, and she teaches that to her kids as well.

“If there’s a buy one, get one free special at the grocery store, we give one to the needy to teach [my kids] that it’s better to give than to receive,” she said.

Toys for Tots received $11,000 less in donations from last year because the organization filled out paperwork too late for companies like Walmart to donate, Davis said.

Walmart allocates a certain amount of money to donate to charities each year and has a deadline for donation requests, Davis said.

“We are hurting this year,” she said.

DeKalb resident Judith Runge helped by donating two toys. 

She said she wanted to make sure kids got something from Santa Claus.

“[Donating] makes you feel good in the heart,” she said. “It makes you smile.”

There is still time to apply to receive toys from Toys for Tots. To apply, stop by The Salvation Army, 830 Grove St., DeKalb.

For more information, visit 

To help Toys for Tots

Information about toy collection locations, how to volunteer, donate or request a toy for a child is available online at

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