HELENA — Collection for the Helena-area Toy for Tots drive is underway. MTN met up with organizers at 1889 Coffee House where the program is a bit hit. Owner Brett Wiensch is an avid supporter of the program as he's a marine himself.
Marine Toys for Tots is a nonprofit organization whose primary goal is, through the gift of a new toy, to help bring the joy of Christmas and send a message of hope to America's less fortunate children.
Toys for Tots in Helena distributed over 17,000 toys to over 2,800 children last year. Helena area co-coordinator Howard Mears says they're looking to help even more this year.
"Last year was an interesting year. We had a very, very good year. It's going to be a little bit more challenges this year with the inflation, you know. But when we started our toy giveaway, we had about 22,000 toys. It out of the army national guard, out of the airport. And by the time we ended up at the end of the day, we had about 500 toys left," said Mears.
Being a Marine veteran, Mears feels like it's a part of his duty to continue helping other veterans around him.
"It's a continuation of my service to the marine corps. I was a Vietnam vet, served for three years in the Marines, and what I found out when I moved to Helena was that it's just a continuation of what I did in the Marine Corps, which was serve other people, serve the country we have in Montana," said Mears
Veterans make up just over 10% of Montana's population, and Ii's important to Mears to help out in any way he can. And helping others can also help yourself as it did to Toys for Tots co-coordinator Angie Hall.
"I started helping with Toys for Tots at a time in my life when, you know, things weren't quite good and it was really good for me to get out and serve others. And I've been a single mom with kids myself, so I know what it's like to be in the position to need a little help. So it's really nice to be able to be on the other side of that and help people out when I can," said Hall.
Family registrations to receive toys this season are on November 15th,18th, and 19th. The contact can be found on the Helena Toys for Tots website or you can visit Life Covenant Chruch at 800 N Hoback.