Mantorville Fire fighters Rog Nolte, Travis Bebee, Bryce Gunderson and Fire Chief JJ Williams received donations for Toys for Tots at the Casey's corner in Mantorville on Saturday.
By Tara Lindquist
Dodge County Fire Departments braved the cold on Saturday, December 7, to raise money and collect toy donations for the annual Toys for Tots Drive.
The Fire Departments started the tradition last year, in collecting toys and money and teaming up to go on a shopping trip to buy toys for kids in Dodge County.
Hayfield Fireman and Marine Reservist, Vince Reynolds is now the Toys for Tots coordinator for southeastern Minnesota. Reynolds said when he got back from being deployed to Iraq in 2009, he called the Toys for Tots coordinator and offered to help.
"By the time we got off the phone I had agreed to take over the position for him," Reynolds said. During the 2010 holiday season, Reynolds shadowed Todd Egler to learn how to do the job. In 2011, Reynolds was deployed to Afghanistan so Eggler took the job over for Reynolds while he was deployed. Reynolds got the local fire departments involved last year. Hayfield Fire Department donates some of their charitable gambling money to the Toys for Tots drive, to help families in Dodge County. Area agencies and groups like Christmas Anonymous gather lists and names of kids that are need of toys during the holiday season. The lists are given to Toys for Tots, and Toys for Tots fulfills the toy needs for kids in Dodge County. Last year Toys for Tots provided 400 kids with toys for Christmas. The average amount of toys the kids received was two and a half.
"If kids are asking for smaller toys they get three, if they are asking for larger toys then they get two toys." He also added Toys for Tots has never, not fulfilled the need for toys in southeastern Minnesota. The program uses cash donations to make up for any shortfall of presents.
"All donations that are collected in southeastern Minnesota stay here," Reynolds said. He said there's some misconception that the toys are distributed to other areas, but he said that is not case.
On Saturday, December 15, the area Fire Departments will be meeting up and head to Toys R Us in Rochester to buy toys to fulfill the lists of kids in Dodge County.