GENEVA – For the past several years, Wendy Marcec of Geneva, founder of A Lasting World Inc., has been collecting toys for an impoverished community in Estill County, Ky.
Her project, SANTA – Send A New Toy to Appalachia – is open for the community to participate.
The toys will be gathered into a truck from 10 a.m. to noon Oct. 27, Make A Difference Day, in front of the Geneva School District 304 office, 227 Fourth St.
People can bring new toys on the collection day or drop them off from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday at Friendship Station, which is housed at Geneva Middle School South, 1415 Viking Drive.
“The kids around here have been so open to this project,” Marcec said. “I have talked to the Leo Club at the high school. When kids see pictures of the houses [in Kentucky], they are like, ‘Oh, my gosh, we want to help.’ They really know they are blessed and willing to share … our school district is very, very generous.”
Others participating in the toy drive are Fabyan and Harrison elementary schools, Geneva Middle Schools South and North, Geneva High School Key Club, St. Peter Catholic School, Geneva Mayor’s Office and the Geneva City Council.
Toy donations are tax-deductible. Cash can also be donated through PayPal by visiting www.paypal.com and entering the email of firstname.lastname@example.org, Marcec said. Checks for the charity can be sent to her home, 2999 Husking Peg Lane, Geneva, IL 60134.
“Last year, we collected just under 1,000 brand-new toys for 400 families,” Marcec said. “We hope to surpass that record amount of toys this year. The more we can bring, the more families we can serve. Our goal would be to give one or two toys per family.”
Suggested toys are baby dolls, Barbie dolls, action figures, puzzles, board games, sports balls – such as footballs, basketballs and soccer balls – toy cars, toy trucks, LEGO-type building blocks, Nerf toys and dress-up accessories.
Donors are asked not to give electronic or battery-operated toys because many homes in the area do not have electricity, and most families cannot afford to replenish batteries for toys, she said.
Marcec said she learned about the need in the Appalachia region that had been devastated by mountaintop removal, a way of mining coal by destroying the mountaintop instead of through mining.
“With mountaintop removal, one machine can do the work of 35 men,” Marcec said. “Everyone lost their jobs, and there is nothing else in this area.”
The first foray into helping the children of this region was providing mittens, hats and scarves, Marcec said.
“We took those down and we asked what was most needed, and they said, ‘Toys. If you could bring toys. Our kids never get new toys,’ ” Marcec said.
The charity works with Michael Flynn, family resource director at Estill County Middle School in Irvine, Ky. Flynn said 100 percent of students at two elementary schools qualify for free or reduced lunch and are in need of basic necessities.
“These folks have been doing this for several years,” said Flynn about A Lasting World. “They just really found their hearts in this part of the country. They come down here four or five times a year, and they always stop at my school. One year, they got Barnes and Noble to do a book drive for our students and brought 1,100 new books. A lot of our kids don’t have books.”
Information about A Lasting World, Inc. is available online at http://alastingworld.com.