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Toys for Kids reaches 165 children

The Toys for Kids crew included: Front row from left: Dave Anderson, Grant Haugen, Tammy Boushek, Jim Nelson and Larry Puls. Back row, from left: Joe Washek, Dave Wasnek, Jay Jenson, Jon Gackle and Bud Anderson. (Contributed)1 / 2
The Toys for Kids campaign gathered enough toys for 165 children from birth to age 17 as well as full Christmas dinners for 72 families. (Contributed)2 / 2

The Runestone Detachment 1409, Marine Corps League, served 72 families from Douglas and Pope counties during its fifth annual Toys for Kids disbursement at Love INC.

Those families included 165 children from birth to age 17, said Love INC director Tammy Boushek.

As well, Cullen's Home Center provided 75 full Christmas dinner for all families receiving toys and others needing a dinner to share with their family through its "Keep Christ in Christmas" promotion, Boushek said.

Love INC, a Christian nonprofit that partners with 32 area churches, then followed up with those families on the phone.

During those phone conversations, she said, parents offered comments including:

• It has been a rough year, the Toys For Kids was way more than what I expected. It's tough being a single parent.

• This was a big help to our family. The staff and workers were very friendly, the Marines were gentlemen.

• I was very grateful as my first paycheck would not have covered Christmas gifts.

Ten Marines distributed the gifts and food on Dec. 20. As well, they distributed and picked up toy collection boxes. Love INC volunteers from four area churches registered families, packed toy bags, and greeted guests arriving for the distribution.

The Detachment began the toy drive the same year it formed five years ago, said Grant Haugen, Toys for Kids coordinator.

"We tried to figure out what can we do for the community and this is the project we picked," he said.

Donors give cash as well as toys.

"One person mailed in $500, so that was kind of cool," Haugen said.

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