Lions kick off Toys for Tots drive

by CAROLINE LOBSINGER
Staff Writer | November 24, 2020 1:00 AM

SANDPOINT — This year’s Toys for Tots campaign may look a little different, thanks to the novel coronavirus pandemic continuing to wreak havoc across the country and the globe, but its mission stays the same: Make Christmas merry and bright for all.

Santa’s elves — in the form of local Sandpoint Lions Club members and their many volunteers and helpers — say they plan to make sure of that. They just will be doing things a little differently.

Make no mistake, it won’t look the same. There won’t be any turkey bingo games at the Bonner Mall. No kids stamping out patterns and pictures on the paper-covered tables and no screams of excitement as that last number is needed to claim bingo honors.

The Lions Club and members won’t be gathering at the Lions Den, packing boxes with all the fixings to hand out to families in need for Christmas dinner. Instead, gift certificates will be handed out so residents can pick up their own groceries.

Parents won’t be able to shop the best toy store around in person but should include a detailed wish list on the back of the application forms so Lions Club members can do the shopping for them instead.

While the fundraiser is just getting underway, the first few donations have already been dropped off to the Lions Club so they can help ensure the community has a very merry Christmas.

Generous donations have been received from Roy Dean and Linda Raynor, who kicked off the campaign with $100 to Toys for Tots. Also donating to the drive is Vicki Reich, who donated $50 to the annual campaign. That brings the total donated so far to the Toys for Tots campaign for the year to $150.

“Thank you for being the first donators to the 2020 Toys for Tots,” Lions Club members said. “Your graciousness is much appreciated.”

There will be many people in need of a little Christmas cheer this year. It’s been a hard one for everyone, from shutdowns to pandemics to tough times to having to social distancing protocols, and more. It will take all of us — together, as a community — to help the Lions ensure the holidays are happy for everyone. There is no doubt in my mind that we can do it — this is an amazing place filled with caring and compassionate people who care about their friends and neighbors.

Every little bit, from your spare change to a dollar or two adds up as the power of community builds. Instead of that candy bar, drop that dollar into a coin jar. Instead of that coffee and pastry, drop that money into an envelope and get it to the Lions. Find a great deal on this season’s must-have Christmas gifts? If you can, maybe buy an extra money and place it into one of the local toy drop off locations in the community.

Each little bit adds up — and becomes something magical, Christmas.

The goal for this year’s Toys for Tots campaign is $50,000 — the same as it has been in past years. The Lions make the most of the money by shopping bargains, and with the assistance of generous local businesses.

The Toys for Tots program provides free new toys for children living in the Lake Pend Oreille School District, from Sandpoint to Clark Fork and all points in-between. A Christmas dinner for the family is also provided. If you know someone, or need help yourself, the Lions are taking applications for the 2020 Toys for Tots program.

Applications are being accepted — more than 40 have been received already. The forms are available at the Lions Den, 609 S. Ella St., Sandpoint, on Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays, between 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.; online at the Sandpoint Lions Facebook page, facebook.com/SandpointLionsClub; or at Bonner Community Food Bank, 1707 Culvers Drive, Sandpoint. The deadline to submit an application is Monday, Dec. 14.

Masks are required to enter the Lions Den building or those dropping them off may also place them into the red box next to the door.

Toys may be dropped off at the Bonner County Daily Bee, 310 Church St., Sandpoint; Farmhouse Restaurant, 477227 U.S. 95, Ponderay; Columbia Bank — Sandpoint branch, 414 Church St.; and Ponderay branch, 300 Kootenai Cutoff Road; Walmart, 476999 U.S. 95, Ponderay; and North 40, 477181 U.S. 95, Ponderay.

There are a host of coin jars around the community where spare change can be donated. In addition, monetary donations may be dropped off at both branches of Columbia Bank and the Bonner County Daily Bee during normal business hours. Donations may be mailed to the Sandpoint Lions Club, Box 414, Sandpoint, ID 83864.

Donations made by check are preferred. Be sure to include a note with your check indicating that it is a Toys for Tots donation. If you wish to make an anonymous donation, please include a note. If the donation is being made in someone’s name, be sure to also include a note.

Information: Sandpoint Lions Club, 208-263-4118

Caroline Lobsinger can be reached by email at clobsinger@bonnercountydailybee. com and follow her on Twitter @CarolDailyBee.