‘Tis the season of giving, and one would be hard-pressed to find a better example of that giving spirit than at the Marines Toys for Tots distribution in Helena.
As the volunteers will tell you, the joy and cheer that comes from the season goes both ways.
“I love distribution day this is where all these families get to see the heart of Helena,” said Helena Toys For Tots Co-Coordinator Howard Mears. “And you can see it in all these tables and all these boxes and everything.”
The greater Helena area donated 26,000 toys this year for Marines Toys for Tots. After a week of sorting, organizing and setting up, the toys were ready to go out to more than 570 families who signed up.
Families were assisted by volunteer shopping assistants while they picked out toys that their kids would enjoy. Helena Civil Air Patrol and area Scouts helped load the bags of goodies once everything was picked out into vehicles.
“I know for me I’m just very grateful and it just reminds me of how great it is to live in Helena,” said mother Nichole.
Many of the Toys for Tots clients MTN spoke to said inflation and rising rent rates have made things difficult.
“Yeah, it’s crazy. It’s hard to be able to afford anything and this helps people living paycheck to paycheck,” said mother of four Kinsey Super. “It feels amazing to help anyone who needs help getting their kiddos toys or who can normally not give their kids a Christmas and be able to something under the tree for them.”
Kinsey says she plans to volunteer next year and can’t speak highly enough about the volunteers.
“They’re amazing. They’re the sweetest people I’ve ever met. They’re always really sweet and willing to help in any way.”
All the families and volunteers had a message for the community regarding the donations they made this year.
“It is a blessing to each and every one of us. Thank you very much,” said Mears.
Kinsey said, “I just want to say thank you for allowing us to give our kids an amazing Christmas.”
“Thank you and Merry Christmas,” said Nichole.
Any toy remaining after distribution will be put back into storage and used for families in need throughout the year, such as when a home burns down or when a foster family is in need.