Linda Andorf looked out over multiple tables filled with toys for local children ages 0-14 at the Crossroads Church.
“It’s just overwhelming,” she said, that the tables for the Annual Toy Drive were so full this year.
Basketballs filled a large box on one end of the room, while tractors sat on the floor underneath a table. Dolls were lined up on another table while books sat on another and board games were stacked at the front of the room.
“This is, I think, the very best year we’ve ever had. And the community has just opened their hearts,” Andorf said. “It just really makes your heart feel good that people are willing to reach out to those who are less fortunate.”
Around 230 kids will be helped through the Annual Toy Drive this year. Families applied for the program through New Opportunities. Staff members then go through the applications to verify income guidelines.
Linda and John Andorf dropped off collection boxes at City Hall, Perry Public Library, Ben’s Five and Dime, Van Wall Equipment, Medicap Pharmacy, Shopko, Percival Scientific, Orscheln Farm and Home, Perry Perk and Dollar General.
Businesses, organizations and individuals collected and donated toys for the Annual Toy Drive through Nov. 30.
Around $1,800 was also raised through round-ups at Fareway and Hy-Vee. Linda Andorf said all of the money was spent locally to buy toys for the drive.
All of the toys from the boxes and other donations were collected and transported to the Crossroads Church. Those toys were joined by more from Toys for Tots.
All of the toys were then sorted and placed on tables in a section of the Crossroads Church. Infant gifts went on one table, while toys for boys and girls 2-14 filled two more tables.
A group of volunteers showed up to help bag up those toys on Tuesday, Dec. 4.
Andorf told the group to make sure each child had at least three toys in the bags, one large and two smaller. They could also grab books, games and stocking stuffers to help fill out the bags.
Andorf added that once the volunteers had gone through the tables once, they would make another pass and add more toys to the bags as needed.
“They’re going to be really, really full bags this year,” she said.
The toys will be distributed to local families on Friday, Dec. 7.
Lisa Battani and Mary Kautzky grabbed a sheet with the ages of the kids in one family, along with a few of their interests. They quickly moved to the doll section and hunted for the perfect one to place into the bag for one of the girls on the sheet.
“I just think it’s very rewarding. That’s more than anything for me, just to be able to see how giving the community is,” Battani said. “And for us to be able to fulfill a little child’s wish as best as we can.”
Andorf added that she pulled a few items from the collected toys to go along with some of the child’s wish lists. Some of those items included a Spiderman figure, Minecraft Legos, a Pete the Cat book and others.
“Everybody should get something that they want under the tree,” Andorf said.
John Andorf was busy unpacking boxes of donated toy trucks on the other side of the room.
“I’m really impressed and happy with all the community support, because it is a community effort. And amazed that this is the best year ever,” he said of the Annual Toy Drive. “It’ll bring a nice Christmas to many children and their families.”