Northwest Michigan Toys for Tots Campaign to Kick Off Amidst COVID-19
Northwest Michigan Toys for Tots is set to kick off their annual campaign on Saturday from noon to 2 pm.
However, because of COVID-19, there will be some changes.
“Typically we would be having a big kickoff party at the Great Wolf Lodge,” said Northwest Michigan Toys for Tots board member Mike Kent. “We’d be collecting toys, we’d have visits with Santa, we’d have all kinds of kids activities, but that’s all changing. We can’t do that this year.”
Instead, they’re hosting a drive-thru toy drop off event at three locations in Traverse City: Grand Traverse Mall, Fox Motors, and Bill Marsh Auto.
“We want people to know that Toys for Tots is up and running,” said Kent. “We want to make sure that every child in northern Michigan has a great Christmas and that’s ultimately what toys for tots does.”
This year, Kent estimates they’ll need more than the 20,000 toys they normally bring to agencies.
“We know there are families out there right now that they want their child to have a great Christmas, and they don’t know how they’re going to do it,” said Kent. “They just can’t afford it, so that’s what this does, it provides a relief for those families.”
Toy drop off sites have been reduced this year for the safety of the Toys for Tots volunteers, the locations, and the people making the donations. Kent says monetary donations will be key this year.
“The more that we can take that money, go out and buy toys in bulk, and then drop them off directly to the agencies, that means we don’t have to touch those toys as much,” said Kent.
Toy sorting at the Coast Guard Air Station is also changing this year. Normally, 50 to 60 volunteers would sort through the toys received by the campaign.
“We’re going to do 10 person groups in hour, hour and a half shifts and go through it that way,” said Kent. “Everything has to be rethought just to make sure that people are safe.”
“I think every year there’s a need for it, and this year, the need is greater,” said Fox Grand Traverse General Manager Tom Gordon. “Whether it’s a cash donation or a toy at the drop site, it’s just so greatly appreciated, and what a great town we live in to have that type of support.”