Holding donations for Toys for Tots, men's auxiliary President Mark Cummings stands between Matt Rowe and Hannah Corson, employees of The Pizza Place, which is one location where the VFW Post 4114 and men's and women's auxiliaries have a box to help in this toy collection effort in Fillmore County.  MARY WHALEN/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE
Holding donations for Toys for Tots, men's auxiliary President Mark Cummings stands between Matt Rowe and Hannah Corson, employees of The Pizza Place, which is one location where the VFW Post 4114 and men's and women's auxiliaries have a box to help in this toy collection effort in Fillmore County. MARY WHALEN/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE
Toys for Tots allows area residents an opportunity to bring happiness into countless young lives in southeastern Minnesota by donating items at six locations in Spring Valley.

"Last year almost 11,000 southeastern Minnesota children received toys through Toys for Tots because of the generosity of others," remarked Toys For Tots coordinator Gunnery Sergeant Vince Reynolds of Hayfield. "Southeast Minnesota Toys for Tots serves eight counties. We collect toys throughout the region and will deliver them to 30 different agencies who then distribute the toys to families within their communities."

VFW Post 4114 along with its men's and women's auxiliaries, led by men's auxiliary President Mark Cummings, are teaming up with Toys for Tots in this toy collection effort in Fillmore County.

"Last year, I got the idea that this would be good for us to get involved with," said Cummings. "So I contacted Toys for Tots and mentioned this idea to Nathan Pike. Soon the Spring Valley VFW Post Hanson-Raabe 4114 and men's and women's auxiliaries gave the OK to set up toy collection boxes in Spring Valley businesses."

The Toys for Tots boxes that the VFW will be in charge of collecting are located at: The Alco store, Johnny Ringo's, Dairy Queen, Rack's Bar and Grill, Dollar General and The Pizza Place. Also, SEMA Equipment, Inc., in Spring Valley has a donation box.

"There are four different agencies within Fillmore County we work with to distribute toys. All toys, gift items and donations collected in southeast Minnesota stay in southeast Minnesota," stated Reynolds. "What's great about Toys for Tots is that it's a program that allows a community to take care of its own. Toys for Tots is run by the Marine Corps Reserves but toys we distribute in southeast Minnesota come from the generosity of the people of Southeast Minnesota. My job as the coordinator is to simply be the middle man and without the caring nature of individuals in our communities, there would be no program."

VFW Post 4114 Commander Nathan Pike stated that "I'm hoping people donate and help out the children of Fillmore County. We will be accepting donations until the weekend of Dec. 20-22 and we need all kinds of new, unwrapped toys, items for teens and are also accepting monetary donations."

Cummings added that "if donating money, know that 97 cents of every dollar donated goes directly to purchasing gifts. I know there are other places to donate to, but I thought it would be good to have places right here in Spring Valley. There are envelopes at each of the six locations the VFW has placed boxes to make it easier for people to give a cash donation."

Shopping for gifts for children ages birth to 18 and donating these items to Toys for Tots can become a family tradition.

"Now that I'm a grandpa, I see how important and fun it can be looking for gifts for young children," said Cummings. "I hope we can fill all six boxes in Spring Valley this year and even get more boxes in town for next year!"

For more information, call Cummings at (507) 272-0345; if no answer, leave a message or visit the Toys for Tots website.