Local union donates toys to Salvation Army


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Although Johnson County will not have an official Toys for Tots drive this holiday season because of a missed deadline, a local union group decided to donate toys in its absence.

The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Local 2985 donated $1,700 worth of toys to the Salvation Army Monday morning.

“We wanted to give back for something in the community,” said Marty Hathaway, the president of the local. “We’re not just a union that forgets where we came from; we live in the community.”

Monday’s donation is up from last year, when the union donated $1,000 worth of toys to Toys for Tots.

Local 2985 recording secretary Amber Moats was one of the members who went to buy all the toys with the funds. She said the union gave $1,500 to spend, but with smart shopping, they were able to spend a couple hundred more.

“A lot of the toys had deals like ‘Buy two, get one free,’” Moats said. “We definitely exploited the free toys and gift cards [that come as a reward for spending a set amount of money].”

The union participated in the Toys for Tots Drive for the first time last year. Some members of the union went overseas to serve in the military and when they returned, requested that the group participate with the charity.

When the official in charge of Johnson County’s Toys for Tots decided he could not run the program anymore, a different official took control. But he was unable to register the county for the toy drive in time.

Therefore, this year, if Johnson County residents would like to donate toys or funds for Toys for Tots, they will have to go directly through the Salvation Army.

Officials from the Salvation Army said they do not think the change will affect the number of toys Johnson County receives and that the bigger issue is community members being uninformed about the help given by the Salvation Army.

“There’s some people who are embarrassed to ask, but a lot of people just don’t know about it,” said Lia Pontarelli, Salvation Army director of development and communications. “Many people think [the service] is just for homeless people, but it’s not.”

Last year, the Salvation Army gave away 9,210 toys, with each child receiving a few toys.

Hathaway said he hopes the union will continue to participate with the toy drive, and other members agree this is a good cause.

“I grew up myself not very well off, we didn’t have a whole lot of money,” Moats said. “Everyone deserves a toy under the Christmas tree.”

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