By Ben Olson
Back in the 1950s, when the Sandpoint Lions Club started doing the Toys for Tots drive, people would donate used toys and the Lions would fix them up and give them out to children.
“It was a project they worked on all year,” said Lions Club Vice President Judy Dabrowski and chairwoman of Toys for Tots program.
Nowadays, the Lions hire toy buyers (tough job!) to ensure the area kids receive new toys for the holidays in this annual tradition.
Curious how Toys for Tots works?
“The community can donate toys or money,” said Dabrowski. “With the money, we go out and purchase toys for the program.”
The toys are stored in the Toy Room at the Lions Den, where shelves are loaded each year. Families who would like to participate sign up and receive points for each child. One point equals one dollar, so if a toy costs $10, it uses up 10 points. When a family signs up, each child receives 50 points of credit.
“The people who use the program enjoy the fact that they can pick out their children’s own toys,” said Dabrowski. “We try to have as much variety in our toy store as possible.”
The only requirement to sign up for Toys for Tots is that your child must be a member of the Lake Pend Oreille School District and you must have custody of your child.
“If you come in and tell us you need help, that’s why we’re here,” said Dabrowski.
The Lions serve around 1,000 children every year for Toys for Tots, as well as providing a Christmas dinner box to families in need.
“We hope to raise $50,000,” said Dabrowski. “We’ve set that goal every year and accomplished it every year I’ve been a member. This community is incredible for how much they give to the charities around here: the food bank, Kinderhaven, all the charities. It’s the community giving back to itself. They are taking care of our friends and neighbors. That’s why we’re here. It could be any one of us that needs help, and I would hope that someone else would be there if I need it.”
For more information or to sign up for Toys for Tots, head over to the Lions Den at 607 S. Ella near Lakeview Park. There will be someone in the Den from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. every Monday, Wednesday and Friday through Dec. 18.
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