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Sandpoint Lions kick off Toys for Tots drive

by CAROLINE LOBSINGER
Staff Writer | November 21, 2021 1:00 AM

SANDPOINT — It’s all about making Christmas merry and bright for all.

Each year, the Sandpoint Lions Club — in their guise as Santa’s merriest of elves — and their host of volunteers and helpers dedicate their holiday season to Toys for Tots, an effort to ensure all children in the Lake Pend Oreille School District have the merriest of Christmases.

Kicked off by their annual Turkey Bingo games, which attracted 60-plus people both nights, the Lions have been busy placing Toys for Tots boxes at local businesses from coffee shops to grocery stores and more. Sign-up applications are available at the Bonner Community Food Bank and on the door of the Lions Den at 609 S. Ella Avenue right by the caboose in Lakeview Park. They can also be downloaded at bit.ly/3x7md4o.

Registration started Nov. 1 and ends on Dec. 17. Those filling out the application are reminded to be sure to fill out both pages and return your application promptly.

As last year, the application form includes information for parents to detail a wish list for each of their children as well as their favorite color and TV show or movie. This allows the Lions to fulfill as many wishes as they can.

In the early days of the drive, Sandpoint Lions toiled long and hard, transforming gently loved toys, sleds, bikes and more into just-like-new treasures. Carefully, and with great love, Lions members and their merry crew of helpers scraped off chipped paint, fixed broken wheels and sewed loose limbs on stuffed soon-to-best friends. The dirt was washed off, bent frames fixed and everything made into something straight from Santa’s workshop.

All that was “old,” was made new again — and when Christmas morning dawned, the toys had new homes and a host of local youngsters had a merry Christmas.

Those early days of the Toys for Tots program in the early 1950s may be long past, but the spirit which sparked the Toys for Tots program lives on. Each year, the community rallies together and donations come from everyone — youngsters who have saved their allowances all year long, coin jars from every who give in the name of their long-grown grandchildren.

But to make all of this happen, they need your help.

Through community support, the Lions are able to provide free new toys for children ages 1 to 10 and gift cards youths who are between the ages of 11 and 18 who live in the Lake Pend Oreille School District, from Sandpoint to Clark Fork and all points in-between. In addition, a Christmas dinner for the family is available.

With five applications on the first day, Lions President Janice Rader said the club is preparing for an increase in the number of people seeking the Lions’ help.

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 bargain shopping, and with the assistance of generous local businesses.

Donations for Toys for Tots can be dropped off at the front desk at the Bonner County Daily Bee, 310 Church St., from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. You can also drop off donations at Columbia Bank’s Sandpoint branch, 414 Church St., or at the Ponderay branch, 300 Bonner Mall Way; and at the Ponderay Starbucks.

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