BY MARY WICOFF
The Christmas season should be a magical one — and the Marine Corps League wants to make sure that happens for as many children as possible.
As part of that effort to brighten children’s lives, the Kenneth D. Bailey Detachment 824 and the Hoopeston Jaycees are sponsoring a magic show Saturday.
The show, featuring illusionist Randy Shields, will be at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Civic Center in Hoopeston. The show is free, but people are encouraged to bring donations of toys or money for Toys for Tots.
Shields, a member of the Marine Corps League, said the entertainment will be family-friendly. He stressed that children must be accompanied by adults.
Not only will people be entertained, he said, but they can help a worthy project — Illiana Toys for Tots — at the same time. “If they’re looking for something to give to this time of year, it’s a good organization,” he said.
Shields added, “Come out and have a magical evening.”
The Toys for Tots campaign is under way now and ends Dec. 7. Distribution to eligible families will be Dec. 12.
Jeff Wakeland, coordinator of the Toys for Tots campaign and a member of the Marine Corps League, said more than 75 collection boxes for toys have been set up at various businesses and schools across Vermilion County. The campaign also extends into western Indiana.
If you want to donate a toy, it should be worth no more than $30 in value. The toys also should be new and unwrapped, and for children up through age 12. Many people donate toys for ages 2-7, so it would be nice to get gifts for the older kids, organizers have said.
Last year, there were enough toys for families, he said. However, they ran out of books, games and stuffed animals.
The collection boxes have been out since Oct. 1, but, Wakeland said, “There hasn’t been that much of a drop yet.” After Thanksgiving, he hopes people will get into the Christmas spirit and fill up the boxes.
Also, families are being encouraged to sign up for the Toys for Tots program this month at the Salvation Army, 855 E. Fairchild St. People may sign up from 9-11 a.m. and 1-3 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays through Nov. 29.
Parents or guardians need to bring photo ID, proof of income (last 30 days’ worth of income), proof of residency (power bill, aid card, mail with address, etc.), and child or children’s information (birth certificate, medical card, proof of custody). Only one family member may sign up the child or children.
Wakeland said about 850 people signed up last year. He expects more this year, adding, “There are more people in need now than last year.”
Distribution will be from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Dec. 12 at St. James United Methodist Church gym; people will be able to wait in the sanctuary.
Wakeland’s dream is to find a permanent or semi-permanent facility that the League could use during several days. He would like to find a place in downtown Danville, for example, where there would be bus service — which would be convenient for families. A permanent site would make the program more visible to the public, as well.
Anyone with ideas on property for the Toys for Tots program may call Wakeland.
Send donation checks to Toys for Tots coordinator Jeff Wakeland at 7762 N. Meridian Road, Perrysville, IN 47974-8117; put Danville in the memo line. Donations are tax-deductible and stay in the area.
To learn more, call the Salvation Army at 442-5911, or Wakeland at (812) 240-3177.
You also may make donations online at http://www.toysfortots.org and indicate which community should receive the donation.