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Trustee’s annual celebration: Toy for every child

December 16, 2018

What 9-year-old girl doesn’t like unicorns? On Saturday, Aryannah Freeman was all smiles as she clutched a sparkly, pink plush unicorn nearly half her size.

“They’re beautiful,” she said when asked why she liked unicorns. Aryannah was given the stuffed animal at the Wayne Township trustee’s seventh annual holiday celebration at the McMillen Park Community Center.

The celebration, which usually attracts about 1,000 people, three quarters of them children, provides a toy for every child.

Toys are distributed after a child plays a game : bean bag toss, ping pong ball throw and Frog on the Lily Pad, to name a few : and gets a ticket. A stamp on the hand keeps track of each child receiving a gift, Wayne Township Deputy Trustee Austin Knox said.

Trustee Rick Stevenson and his staff organize the celebration, which includes providing township children with Christmas presents and offering an afternoon of games, fake tattoos, balloons, homemade Christmas cookies from the Salvation Army and beverages.

The largest crowd was gathered at the raffle area, where 50-inch TVs were being given away along with toys, electronics and other items.

Many donors make the celebration happen, said SuzAnne Runge, Wayne Township communications director. Platinum donors include McDonald’s, Sand Point Living Interiors, Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation, Mad Ants, Blue Marble and the Salvation Army.

Runge said the donations enable Wayne Township to award four $500 college scholarships and give 12 computer tablets to deserving students.

Stevenson personally escorted three little boys behind the rope.

“These are two who didn’t get a prize,” Stevenson told the announcers as one more boy appeared. The little guys snagged a two-foot-long Snickers bar and a toy and looked happy about it.

It was the first year Shelon Boykin, a local resident, volunteered, handing out juice and water.

“They help us pay our bills. We’re helping them,” Boykin said. Boykin was referring to the financial help Wayne Township gives to residents who have difficulty paying utility bills, she added.

Mike Manuel, a probation officer, said he has often worked security at the event and has never had a problem.

“It’s a beautiful event,” Manuel said.

jduffy@jg.net

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