The Wyoming County Toy Fund will “never” end, as far as Dale Stewart, one of the organizers of the event, is concerned.
Stewart spoke at Sunday’s Toy Fund party, held Sunday at Wyoming East High School, where an estimated 1,200 families picked out toys for their children.
Donations ran behind for a while, but an increase in giving in the final week brought this year’s total to more than $19,000.
“I think we’ll have it forever,” Stewart commented. “There will always be a need for some form of the Toy Fund.”
This year’s party featured both the usual—volunteers in purple T-shirts assisting families as they walk through—and the unusual: One woman went into labor while going through the line. “We had a good turnout of volunteers,” commented Todd Houck, one of the Toy Fund organizers.
The volunteers range in age from elementary school students to senior citizens.
“It’s a good opportunity for students to start a portfolio (of community service),” said Stewart.
“We’ve had people who have been here all 15 years,” he pointed out. “We have some who received gifts (from the Toy Fund) who come back and volunteer.”
Stewart says he would like to find young professionals who could handle the managment aspect of the operation.
“We would like to get more high school students involved,” he continued. The Toy Fund doesn’t just involve a few weeks before Christmas for everyone.
Stewart points to Kenny Stiltner and Junior Vest, volunteers who work year-round.
“(Stiltner) travels around the county and picks up toys,” Stewart said. “He does a little bit of everything. He and Junior Vest are good, year-round workers.”
He says volunteers Carol Cox and Jacqueline Stewart got their church, Matheny Methodist Church, involved.
“When they saw there was a need, the Matheny Methodist Church women’s group, which usually donates $100, gave $500,” Stewart said.
Brothers of the Wheel donated 35 bicycles for the event.
“It’s been a very productive year,” Stewart said.
Mona Perry, a second time volunteer from Saulsville, says the work is worth it to “see kids get something for Christmas.” “It’s a tough world out there,” she remarked. “There are a lot of kids whose parents can’t purchase something for them.”
Notes: The Stewart Family provided musical entertainment in the WEHS gym for families who were waiting for their turn to go through the line … Stewart expressed thanks to the school for providing the site for the Toy Fund since it began 15 years ago.