More Than 750 Families Helped Through Toys for Tots in Central Nebraska

By: Megan Johnson Email
By: Megan Johnson Email

Grand Island, NE - Thousands of kids in four central Nebraska counties won't be disappointed on Christmas morning thanks to Toys for Tots.

The Heartland United Way, Salvation Army, and Marine Corps teamed up to give more than 750 Hall, Hamilton, Howard, and Merrick County families a chance to pick up gifts for their kids on Thursday.

Bonnie Westfall, Heartland United Way Director of Development, says families have to apply and be verified to be a part of the Toys for Tots program.

She says they received enough donations to make sure each child gets two gifts, and each family gets a game, something they hope promotes families spending time together.

"It's tremendous to see the amount of generosity that we have in our community," says Westfall.

"That's why we live here because we have wonderful neighbors, we have wonderful community members, wonderful leaders that make an event like this happen."

Books, puzzles, stocking stuffers, and some household items were available as well.

Volunteers spent all week setting up for the annual event, but Westfall says planning it is a year long process.

She says they did things a little differently this year, and used some funds to send four volunteer shoppers out on Black Friday.

Their goal was to use $1,000 Visa cards and shop for what Westfall calls their toughest age group - girls and boys ages 9 to 11.

"They got some great deals, they really negotiated on our behalf, they would go to store managers and say I'm shopping on behalf of Toys for Tots, what kind of deal can you give me?" she says. "The merchants were great, they gave us discounts as well, and so we shopped for those that we knew we were going to be low on."

Westfall estimated they helped 2,100 kids this year.

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