U.S. Marines Corp Reservists from Peoria loaded toys on their truck Tuesday at Walters Brothers Harley-Davidson. Santa helped. The Marines coordinate the Toys for Tots campaign.
The military supply truck that arrived at Walters Brothers picked-up roughly 1,200 toys. Walters Brothers’ Stann Wiebler says they started raising donations for the toy drive with a charity ride the first week in November.
“We kind of kick the season off a little early here, so we can have a longer period to collect toys. They do a poker run and raise funds that way. Then we collect toys all through the season. We also give incentives for people to bring toys in and give them to us,” Wiebler said.
Peoria based Marine Sergeant Raheem Mentor says the event generates a lot of seasonal joy. “December 20th through the 22nd is the actual party. That’s when we put all the toys on the tables and we have the families come through and do shopping for the kids. On those three days there are a lot of tears, a lot of smiles and that’s just a really good thing for us to see.”
Sgt. Mentor says people signed-up for the Toys for Tots event through the website and the Salvation Army. The Salvation Army partners with Marines to make Toys for Tots happen.
In addition to Walters Brothers a number of other area organizations and businesses participate in collecting toys for the Marine’s Toys for Tots event. Sherman’s, Bass Pro and Toys R Us also make significant contributions to the annual toy drive.