Generosity is alive and well in the Inland Northwest. Some 10,500 area children received Christmas toys, thanks to the good will of community members who contributed to the Toys for Tots campaign.
During December, cash donations totaling $74,000 were collected in Spokane and Coeur d’Alene which helped fill toy orders for more than 4,600 area families.
For 50 years, the U.S. Marines’ Toys for Tots drive has collected and distributed toys to needy children around the nation.
“This has been our best season since I’ve been involved with Toys for Tots,” said Maj. Mike Hower, who runs the U.S. Marines reserve center in Spokane. “It’s a Marine Corps program - but the great success of Toys for Tots comes from individuals and small businesses.”
Hower gives credit to U.S. Marine Sgt. Colin Wright for his work in facilitating more than 100 community events during the holiday season which gave people the opportunity to donate toys and money.
The Marine Corps League provided volunteers, as did community groups like the Spokane Lilac Festival Association. Spokane Lilac directors were on hand at the Spokane Valley Mall to accept donations at several collection sites. Their efforts yielded 21 barrels of toys and $1,390 in cash.
In addition, all Toys for Tots proceeds help support the local economy, said Hower. Toys are purchased from local toy stores and distributed to area families. “Everything stays in the region,” he said.
Franklin Park Mall donated space for a central warehouse to house the toys this year. Employees at the Bayer Corp. raised $6,000 for the drive, as did the staff of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Radio station KAEP-FM (105.7 The Peak) produced and sold a Toys for Tots musical CD which generated $10,400. Cat Country 94-KDRK radio and Safeway Corp. co-sponsored an auction which reaped $13,000.
“There are so many companies that have contributed, I could go on and on,” said Hower. “We provide the opportunity for the people of this area to do what they can. They come through in glorious fashion year after year.”
Hundreds of Spokane’s homeless dogs and cats will benefit from a contribution of food and cages to SpokAnimal Care shelter.
PETsMART, a pet superstore at 14024 E. Sprague, donated more than $5,500 worth of premium dog and cat food to the facility. The donation was made in cooperation with pet food manufacturers Heinz, Kal Kan and Hill’s Pet Nutrition.
“The number of strays in Spokane has increased dramatically,” said Bryan Miller, PETsMART store director. “This has led to the problem of an over-abundance of animals at local shelters. We wanted to do something to help.”
Animals receive help because of community-wide efforts, Miller said. PETsMART has provided supplies, and the staff at Partners for Pets (an animal welfare organization) has offered support at SpokAnimal.
In addition to the pet food, four cages valued at more than $15,000 were donated to SpokAnimal by PETsMART Charities, a nonprofit organization founded in 1994 by PETsMART superstores. Its mission is to end euthanasia as a means of controlling pet overpopulation by assisting animal programs, like SpokAnimal, throughout the country.
, DataTimes MEMO: Community Update appears each Sunday in The Spokesman Review. Please allow two weeks notice for inclusion in this column.