Keeping the Toys for Tots Tradition Going
During the holidays, UAW Local 685 has a tradition of helping their community. The local teamed up with the Goodfellows organization and the Marine Toys for Tots Program to provide hope and toys for less fortunate families in the community. The groups have worked together for several years purchasing toys and then distributing them locally. Donations to buy the toys are collected from the 6000 membered local consisting of Kokomo Engine, Tipton, Indiana and Kokomo transmission along with a few amalgamated units. Once the collection is complete, volunteers then go purchase the toys with the funds. Puzzles, coloring books, etc. are donated from an outside company each year in addition to the toys that are purchased. Once the toys are purchased, they are brought to the union hall where they are separated by age groups. Parents and their children are then allowed to come through a line and pick out toys.
Last year, with the help of financial secretary David Chester and union steward Steve Brooks, the toy distribution was moved from and alternative school to the 685 Local union hall. The move provided a larger facility for the distribution and storage of the toys.
Although the local raised $26,000 in 2019, that may not be enough for 2020. According to Matt Jarvis, chairman of Local 685, the need is more this year. The average number of children in need is usually between 250 to 300 children. This year it is over 1,500 children. While there were challenges with collecting due to COVID-19 this year, the collection was still accomplished. “It is just a huge, rewarding experience for our membership and their involvement to see those parents light up and know that they can provide something for their kids on Christmas.”