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Kalispell boy goes the distance to help Toys for Tots

December 20, 2018

Carter Colby of Kalispell puts his heart into making sure local kids have a toy for Christmas.

Every year the 8-year-old has made it his personal mission to collect lots of toys for the Toys for Tots Program. Toys for Tots is a program run by the United States Marine Corps Reserve that distributes toys to children whose parents cannot afford to buy them gifts for Christmas.

This year Carter collected and donated 506 toys on Dec. 13 to KDBR “The Bear” radio station’s Toys for Tots drive.

Back in 2011, when Carter was not quite 2, his parents, Mark and Tina Colby of Kalispell, wanted to teach their son the importance of giving back to his community, so they decided to host a toy drive at their house. They invited people who knew Carter through the Glacier Street Rod Association. That year the family collected about 100 toys for Toys for Tots.

An annual tradition was born.

“We knew that at such a young age, toys are what he would understand,” his mother said. “We wanted him to know that not all kids are as lucky as he is and he could make a difference in other kids’ happiness at Christmas.”

Now 8, Carter, a big hotrod fan, personally hands out invitations at local car shows during the summers, going up to people he knows and also complete strangers and inviting them to his party, explaining that all they have to do is bring a new unwrapped toy for Toys for Tots.

In the early years the Colby family would cook all the food for the event. As the event grew, Desoto Grill of Kalispell has graciously donated the food.

“Everyone loves to come and make a child’s Christmas better, enjoy incredible food and have some good times with friends,” Tina Colby said.

At the event, which also features a hotrod show outside the Colby home, Carter greets everyone and thanks them for coming. He then takes the donated toys and places them in an old International pickup (which he claims will be his first car when he gets his driver’s license). As the truck is filled with toys, Carter helps his mom sort and box them for later delivery to “The Bear’s” Toys for Tots drive.

“He looks at every toy and makes comments about how he knows that toy is going to make someone happy,” his mother said. “It is pretty amazing watching him through the years not asking to keep toys and giving them away. He totally gets the meaning and the gift that he is giving.”

The Glacier Street Rod Association and the Vintage Motorcycle group plan their fall cruises on the same day as the toy party in support of the event, with the shared goal of beating the number of toys collected the previous year.

“It is so fun to get calls, texts and Facebook messages asking us the count,” Tina said. “Each year we have accomplished the goal. It would not be possible without everyone supporting our little guy!”

Community Editor Carol Marino may be reached at 758-4440 or community@dailyinterlake.com.

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