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New toy drive begins here

The name is changing, but the focus remains on the children.

The Hastings Lions Club, a long-time toy buyer and provider for the annual holiday program at Hastings Family Service, and North American Banking Co. are teaming up for "Holiday of Hope." The program was launched due to the Marines Toys for Tots program not being able to supply toys for the Hastings area this year - the program cited increased demand for toys.

"What we (the Lions ) and North American will be doing is hopefully collecting toys for about one-third of the children who are bring helped this Christmas," said Hastings Lions Club member and toy project co-chair Bob Wellemeyer.

The Hastings Lions and Troy Weathers of North American Banking Co. did not want any Hastings area child to go without a toy/gift this Christmas. They are working together with Hastings Family Service.

Weathers indicated North American Banking Co. held an after-hours evening for area businesses several weeks ago - Harvest of Hope. It was at that evening he heard about the possible extra need for toys this year.

"This is a huge deal," Weathers said. "There is such a need out there."

Weathers talked to Hastings Family Service Executive Director Chris Koop and suggested a toy drive, with the Hastings Lions, being held. He also suggested the name.

The Holiday of Hope will run to Dec. 16, with specially marked drop-off boxes at area businesses, including North American Banking Co., 1620 S. Frontage Road, First National Bank in downtown Hastings and Shell Rapid Lube, intersection of Highways 61 and 316. New, unwrapped toys and gifts for children birth to 17, can be placed in the boxes. The biggest need is for gifts for teenagers.

The Hastings Lions has been providing toys for children in the community for more than 40 years. In the first years of drive, Hastings Lions members Bernie McCoy, Lam Sutherland and Dale Wiech dressed as Santa Claus and delivered the gifts with the help of the Hastings Fire Department. Thousands of children received gifts over the years. And they will again this year.

Holiday of Hope is recruiting area businesses for drop-off sites. Anyone interested can contact Weathers at 480-6243 or by e-mail at tweathers@nabankco.com.

Help in other ways

The brightly decorated CP Holiday Train, which helps collect food and money for the Hastings Family Service food shelf, will stop from 4:15 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 12, at the CP depot, 500 E. Second St.

Musical entertainment and other activities will kick off the afternoon at 3:30 p.m.

This is the 11th year the Canadian Pacific (CP) has been raising food, money and awareness for food banks in the communities across the United States. The holiday train has helped raise $4 million and 2 million pounds of food for the program.

Anyone wanting to adopt a family or provide individual gifts for the holiday assistance program at Hastings Family Service can contact the agency at 437-7134.

The goal of agency is to have 250 families adopted. Individual gifts such as bath towels, socks, flannel shirts, tools, pots and pans, or gas cards are welcome and appreciated.

Gift trees are available at Our Saviour's Evangelical Lutheran Church, St. Philip's Lutheran Church, First Presbyterian Church, United Methodist Church, Regina Medical Center and Digital Links. First names with a suggested gift item are on the trees.

For more information, call 437-7134 or visit the website at www.hastingsfamilyservice.org.

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