TRAVERSE CITY — A little healthy competition is good for business, but area businesses set aside rivalries during the annual Toys for Tots campaign to work toward a common cause: making sure every child in need has a great Christmas.
The goal of the Toys for Tots campaign that started Nov. 23 is to distribute more than 25,000 new toys to children in need in Grand Traverse, Antrim, Kalkaska, Leelanau and Benzie counties.
“We have to collect a lot of toys in a short period of time, and we rely on our key sponsors. They do a tremendous job,” said Mike Kent, who has served on the Toys for Tots committee for 16 years. “Meijer has been very involved in each of the 16 years I’ve done this campaign, and the car dealerships with their large showrooms located in high traffic areas make great drop-off spots.”
Toys for Tots is an important part of the Christmas season for Bill Marsh, Jr., of the Bill Marsh Auto Group.
“The car dealerships are competitive throughout the year, but we all come together for the good of the community, and we have no issue with doing that,” Marsh said. “We push the toy drive as hard as we can, and even though it’s counter to most business practices, we all believe in coming together for the good of the community.”
Pastor Jim Holwerda, chaplain of The Father Fred Foundation, said the need this year is just as great as in previous years.
“Some of our guests are unemployed, but many are underemployed. Some have seen their hours cut to under 32 a week or are working low-paying jobs that don’t allow them any extras,” Holwerda said. “They are living on the financial edge, and the edge is a very vulnerable place to be.”
Holwerda said toys are distributed through human service agencies in a dignified, empowering way.