Toys for Tots in second yearAfter cleaning around the house and doing their chores, children almost deserve presents for the holidays, 10-year-old Dylan Schock said Tuesday. So he’s helping pick out and distribute presents to children who may not receive any this holiday season. Schock, a fifth-grader at Gussner Elementary, helps his grandmother, Sheila Ova, organize the Toys for Tots program in Jamestown. Ova coordinates the program here.
By: Katie Ryan, The Jamestown Sun
After cleaning around the house and doing their chores, children almost deserve presents for the holidays, 10-year-old Dylan Schock said Tuesday. So he’s helping pick out and distribute presents to children who may not receive any this holiday season.
Schock, a fifth-grader at Gussner Elementary, helps his grandmother, Sheila Ova, organize the Toys for Tots program in Jamestown. Ova coordinates the program here.
Toys for Tots collects gifts for families who may have suffered recent illness, death or financial trouble. Schools, residents, the SAFE Shelter and South Central Human Service Center refer the names of families who may be in need this year. Parents and guardians pick up the gifts in private, so their children need never know. Pick-up day, which is by appointment only, is set for Saturday.
So far, Dylan has helped his grandmother drop off collection boxes, retrieve items from local businesses and his favorite — shop for gifts like LEGO bricks, cameras and MP3 players.
“People tell me that they want stuff like that,” Dylan said.
Sometimes he’s jealous, picking out presents for other children. But Dylan said he understands that some parents don’t have the money to buy gifts for their children every year. That’s why Toys for Tots is important for children, he said.
“They get to have fun tearing open presents,” he said.
This is the program’s second year in James-town, said Ova, who created the Jamestown chapter.
Already, Ova’s spare bedroom and living area are bursting with unwrapped Nerf guns and Hannah Montana cameras — gifts for the 40 or so children referred to the program.
Ova said she got involved because she doesn’t want to see children hurt. Plus, if the roles were reversed and she couldn’t afford presents, Ova said she hoped someone would assist her too.
“If it were me in the situation, I guess I would appreciate the help,” she said.
Ova said she and Dylan don’t do all the work alone. Ova’s niece coordinates the program in Bismarck. And another of Ova’s grandsons, Jordan Schock, 15, helped with setting it up last year.
Plus, businesses, service clubs and individuals help too.
One couple purchased about $500 worth of gifts but wished to remain anonymous, Ova said. Toys R’ Us donated more than $1,000 in gifts and the Sertoma Club in Jamestown donated $200 for gifts.
“(Sertoma is) trying to make Christmas a little brighter for kids,” said Loren Lind, Sertoma member.
Last year, Toys for Tots helped about 270 children, but that’s because the program partnered with the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program. This year, Toys for Tots will help only those families who aren’t receiving other assistance, Ova said.
Also, many of the children who are receiving gifts this year are different than the referrals last year. That may be good news, Ova said.
“I’m hoping that means that the family is not in financial hardship this year,” she said.
Toys for Tots is still accepting gifts and donations. Several businesses have drop-off sites throughout the city. Those locations include: Kmart, Walmart, Maurices, RM Stoudt, Jamestown Implement, Titan Machinery, Hugo’s, County Market, Conlin’s Furniture, Jazzercise, Hillcrest and Home of Economy.
Sun reporter Katie Ryan can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by e-mail at email@example.com