Local union donates to Toys for Tots


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Every year, an Iowa Toys for Tots organization has trouble collecting gifts for children and teens.

Typically, when people donate this time of year, they give toys geared toward toddlers and children, said Michele Matt, the representative of Toys for Tots of Linn County. Now, a large donation from a local union will enable the organization to buy gifts better suited for the rest of the kids.

The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Local 2985 donated $4,500 to Toys for Tots on Thursday.

“This is the largest donation I have ever received in the last few years,” Matt said.

She is excited the money will be used to buy more toys for the program to give away, she said, especially for certain age groups that tend to lack in contributions.

“We get to supplement the toys that are donated locally with the toys that we need for infants and teenagers,” she said. “We get to go to the store and [add more] to the donations.”

This year, the funds will be able to buy presents for 225 to 300 children.

Toys for Tots is an organization created by the U.S. Marine Corps that collects donated toys and gives them to low-income families with children.

AFSCME, which represents public employees, including law enforcement, firefighters, and correctional officers, has bought toys for Toys for Tots in the past before making monetary donations.

The first monetary donation, $1,500, was given in 2011.

“We had some people coming back from Afghanistan and Iraq, and we wanted to do something special for them,” said AFSCME Local 2985 President Marty Hathaway. “We asked them, and they said to donate to Toys for Tots.”

Since the inception of the annual donation, Local 2985 has given $12,200.

Hathaway said the donation was made up of dues paid by AFSCME members, and the amount was later voted upon.

Diana Fitzsimmons, a member of the executive branch of AFSCME and a correctional officer, said the donation is usually made around the holidays.

“Every child should have the opportunity to receive a gift during the holidays,” Hathaway said.

The toys will leave the stores today and will be delivered over the course of next week.

Fitzsimmons said she hopes AFSCME will continue to donate to Toys for Tots in the future.

“When the kids have nothing, this means everything,” she said. “As long as our union can help, we will donate every year.”

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