By Kristin Boza
So much is needed by so many people this year. For those who are able to donate a little something extra, Santa and his elves could use a boost.
The Marine Toys for Tots collection, which was started in 1947 by the United States Marine Corps Reserve, is taking place through Weds., Dec. 9 at local businesses. The local Toys for Tots drive is organized by Our House Wealth Advisors and its CEO and Financial Advisor Robin House and her husband and COO of the company Tony Michalek.
The couple has been coordinating this effort since 2012 and has collected thousands of toys for the drive. Last year, 65 19th Ward businesses participated and nearly 900 toys were collected, according to Michalek.
“Business owners want to give back to their community, especially during tough times,” Michalek said. “The best part of Toys for Tots is interacting with them when delivering the boxes and seeing their passion to help families have a better holiday season. No matter how many toys we collect, they always apologize and wish there were more to give. We are humbled by their inherent outpouring of goodwill.”
Once Michalek and House collect all of the donations, they sort them to ensure the donation guidelines are followed. Any toys that are used and all stuffed animals are donated to another organization. Then, the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve delivers the toys to families.
“Their ability to distribute is amazing and each region competes with the others on who collects the most toys,” Michalek said. “Robin and I enjoy hearing the stories during the final push in early December.”
Due to COVID-19, many families are in need of assistance. Due to restrictions on businesses and a lack of the usual foot traffic in shops, there is concern about how many toys will be collected this year.
“Since we are seeing the business participation at 50% of normal, we obviously expect the amount of toys collected to be lower this year,” Michalek said. “Our House Wealth Advisors also volunteers for the 19th Ward Mutual Aid, and the amount of families picking up [emergency] food and other household items are growing rapidly.”
There are two important rules about giving to Toys for Tots. First, please do not wrap the toys and second, please do not donate stuffed animals or used toys.
Businesses can learn more about being a collection site by contacting Tony Michalek, 312-819-4200 or firstname.lastname@example.org. People who want to donate can drop off or have items shipped directly to Our House Wealth, 3838 W. 111th St., #110, Chicago IL 60655.