A popular tradition for the Toys for Tots campaign kicks into high gear this week. The "Toy Bus" will be on the move and making stops in three northern Michigan communities to collect gifts for children in need.
The bus will make stops in Beulah, Charlevoix and Traverse City with an attempt to stuff the bus with new, unwrapped toys.
Now in its 14th year, the Toy Bus kicks off what is expected to be the biggest week of the Toys for Tots campaign.
Once collected, the toys are distributed through Northwest Michigan Toys for Tots and the Charlevoix/Emmet Toys for Tots campaigns. The organization distributes toys through nearly every human service agency in Grand Traverse, Antrim, Kalkaska, Leelanau and Benzie counties.
The Toy Bus will make stops at:
? A. Papano's Pizza, Wednesday, December 4th in Beulah from 4 - 7 p.m.
? Fox Motors in Charlevoix, Thursday, December 5th from 4 - 7 p.m.
? Meijer, in Traverse City on Friday, December 6th from 8 am - 7 p.m. The bus will be set up in the Burger King parking lot in front of Meijer.
Friday is expected to be the biggest day of the week for the Toy Bus. Donations spike because Meijer in Traverse City matches every toy purchased from them that is donated to the bus that day.
Last year Meijer donated $10,000 to the campaign. The Friday event starts that day with a huge toy buy. Local heroes, including veterans, active military, police and firefighters, shop with students from Silver Lake and Westwoods elementary schools to spend donated cash. The money is used to purchase specific toy requests made by the recipient agencies.
Last year the campaign collected and distributed 25,000 toys to more than 7,000 children and organizers say the need is even greater this year. Collection boxes have been set up at more than 100 locations in the five-county area.
A list of drop off locations and a complete list of toy distribution agencies are available on the Toys for Tots website. You can also call (231) 933-0344 for more information. The local campaign will wrap up on December 20th.