Toys for Tots bring annual holiday joy to Perry youngsters

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Working as busily Monday as elves in Santa Claus' workshop are Toys for Tots volunteers, from left, Betty Hunt, Heather Hoyme, Lisa Battani, Sharon Ulrich, John Andorf, Linda Andorf and Bob Hunt.

Tons of Toys for Tots were bagged up at the Perry Elks Lodge Monday for distribution later this week.

Like the elves in Santa Claus’ workshop, volunteers with the Perry Toys for Tots program were busily bagging up bundles of comfort and joy Monday and Tuesday at the Perry Elks Lodge for our needy local children.

John and Linda Andorf of Perry are the longtime local organizers of the Toys for Tots program, partnering each year with the U.S. Marine Corps to bring toys and games to Perry-area children.

The Andorfs were assisted in the labor of love by Lisa Battani, Heather Hoyme, Betty Hunt, Bob Hunt and Sharon Ulrich. Seven student volunteers from Perry High School also helped to separate the myriad toys into age-appropriate and gender-appropriate groups before they were bagged for distribution on Thursday and Friday.

A jump in need was seen this year, with about 350 children from some 125 families will receive toys through this year’s program, Linda Andorf said. Some last-minute applications are still pending at New Opportunities, which manages the process, she said.

“The Perry community was extremely generous again this year as we always are,” John Andorf said. He noted several local businesses and individuals who gave large donations and said their generosity is greatly appreciated.

Toys for Tots provides new toys for local children, from infants to 14-year-olds. While toys please the younger children, monetary donations are also accepted in order to purchase gift items for older children. Donation boxes will be available through the end of December at Ben’s Five and Dime, the Dollar Tree and Hy-Vee.

Toys for Tots has been in operation since 1947, when the wife of a U.S. Marine wanted to give a homemade doll to charity. Major William Hendricks could not find a charity that gave Christmas gifts to needy children, so he started his own charity. Thus began the national effort and the birth of Toys for Tots.

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