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Donations are needed for the annual toy drive program

Allison Ullmann
Perry Chief
John and Linda Andorf hold a few of the toys purchased for the annual toy drive program. Collection boxes will be available at Perry business through Dec. 4.

More donations may be needed this year for the annual toy drive program.

“Last year we served about 300 kids and we expect the need to be probably as great or greater because of COVID. Just the kind of year we’ve had,” toy drive organizer John Andorf said.

Organizers John and Linda Andorf plan on putting out the collection boxes at the end of the week. Boxes will be located at Ben’s Five and Dime, Van Wall Equipment, Percival Scientific, Orscheln Farm and Home, Dollar General and Perry Perk. Boxes will be picked up on Friday, Dec. 4.

Hy-Vee will also be doing a round-up for the toy drive program from Nov. 16-25.

Families can fill out an application from New Opportunities. The application process is based on income guidelines. 

Linda said applications can be found outside the door at New Opportunities in both English and Spanish. While some already qualify for the program based on other assistance they receive, Linda said others are welcome to fill out an application.

“This is really a strange time and there are people who are having to ask for help that have never had to ask for help before. All they can do is fill out the application and see if they would qualify,” she said.

John and Linda encourage families filling out their applications to give an idea of what their children like. The pair said that helps the volunteers pick out items during distribution. 

“If it’s something that we don’t have in our stash of stuff, we will make sure we go and buy it. Every kid should get something that they want, something that they like,” Linda said.

Toys collected for the program will be distributed to the families who qualify in the second week of December at the Perry Elks Lodge. The toys collected in Perry will join others from the Toys for Tots program. The Marine Corps will bring in toys based on the number of children and ages provided from New Opportunities. 

Some of the toys filling a table at the Perry Elks #407 Lodge for the annual toy drive program in 2019.

Toys are needed for ages 0-14. Linda added that those looking to donate could also pick up movie passes, Subway or McDonald’s gift cards.

“There’s no donation that’s too small. We do expect the need to be great this year and the older kids are harder to buy for, especially the boys, so keep that in mind when purchasing something. But we’ll take anything for any age,” John said.

Linda added that there are less locations for the collection boxes this year as not all of the businesses or other buildings are open to the public because of COVID-19.

“With the limited number, we were really lucky to be able to get the (100+ People for Perry) money in August that we’re using in order to go out and purchase stuff,” she said. “We’re exceptionally grateful for that because otherwise, it could be kind of slim. As John said, we feel pretty certain that the need is going to be a lot higher and we’d like to make sure that everybody gets something for Christmas.” 

John and Linda said they try to spend as much of the donated funds in town as possible. John added that they used the funds from last year’s round-up at Hy-Vee to purchase toys from the local Hy-Vee store.

The Andorfs appreciate the generosity of everyone who donates to the annual toy drive program.

“We couldn’t do it without the community, without the individuals, without the round-up, without the businesses and industry,” John said.

For more information on donating to the annual toy drive program, contact the Andorfs at 515-465-5803.

Sharon Ulrich, left, and Betty Hunt pick out toys for the annual toy drive program in 2019.