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Tis the season to be an elf for non-profit organizations

By: Stephanie Dumm News Messenger Reporter
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Want to Help? New and unwrapped toys are being collected through Friday at various Lincoln locations. Toys for all age groups are being accepted but there is a higher need for toys for infants and teenagers. Collections boxes can be found at businesses throughout Lincoln, including The News Messenger on 553 F St. Call Frank Neves at 408-7205 or Harry Maker at 408-3797 for more information. Toys for Tots needs the help of Santa’s elves to collect gifts for children in need and Lincoln. Those Santa’s elves are actually Lincoln residents. Toys are currently being accepted at various locations around Lincoln, such as News Messenger, City Hall, the chamber of commerce, and Safeway. There are also other business and offices that are collecting toys, including the News Messenger. “There is nothing like seeing the faces of kids receiving toys and knowing that they are cared about,” said Frank Neves, coordinator for Lincoln’s Toys for Tots. Toys are also collected from schools such as Community Christian School, according to Harry Maker, assistant coordinator for Toys for Tots in Lincoln. “Working for Toys for Tots has been one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done,” Maker said. “It’s super rewarding going to the school and seeing kids give toys they brought in to give.” Students from Twelve Bridges Elementary School are also involved. Neves said $3,600 was donated from Toys R Us and a group of students from the school chose toys at the popular store. “We turn them loose in the store and have them pick out toys for the kids,” Neves said. Unwrapped toys for all ages are being collected through Friday but Neves said they will collect toys until Christmas by special request. “If someone is having an office party and collecting toys (from party-goers), we’ll pick them up,” he said. Neves said the collection of toys has been slower this year and Semper Fi Association has been “trying to get the community to understand the greater need for toys.” The Toys for Tots drive in Lincoln is organized by the Semper Fi Association, which Neves said is a nonprofit organization that is Marine Corps related. Neves said the toy drive is one of the major causes for Semper Fi. Toys for Tots, a program started by the Marine Corps in 1947, has helped collect toys for children in need throughout the nation, according to Neves. “We try to meet the needs of all kids and we have certain age groups we don’t have enough toys for,” Neves said. The age groups that are most in need are infants and teens. Neves said the reason for the lack of toys for babies is safety because some toys have parts that the infants could take off and ingest. Good gifts for babies are bulky toys with no removable parts, according to Neves. For teens, he said sports equipment such as basketballs and footballs, as well as inexpensive electronic equipment, are good. Neves said the price range for toys is $10 to $15. Most of the toys collected will be given to the Lions Club, who will distribute them to families with their Christmas food baskets. Some of the toys are also donated to the Police Activities League and Lighthouse Counseling and Family Resource Center. Maker said an effort is made to have the toys given to the parents. “That way, the parents get credit,” Maker said. This is because some parents are not able to buy presents for their children, Maker added, and this way parents can wrap them and give them to their children. The Lincoln News Messenger profiles a nonprofit organization every week. If you would like to see an organization featured, please call 774-7967 or e-mail stephanied@goldcountrymedia.com.