Children allowed to pick a toy, any toy
This past Sunday afternoon as Mrs. Claus and Olaf from the popular children’s film “Frozen” were out and about greeting shoppers in the toy section of Meijer in Bradley, something else was going on.
About 200 underprivileged children from the Kankakee and Iroquois county region gathered in a line that wrapped around just inside the entrance to get the chance to go Christmas shopping.
“This is the most children we’ve ever taken,” said Heatherann Low, chairwoman of Turkey For Tots and compliance officer for Renville Gaming.
With a goal of $13,000, the 22nd annual Turkey For Tots fundraiser organized by the Kankakee Valley Beverage Association and held in November at the Manteno Sportsmen’s Club was able to raise $14,500 so children could purchase gifts.
This year, Low teamed up with the Kankakee Valley Park District in order to bring more kids on the shopping trip.
With a $75 limit, each child was paired with a volunteer as they hurried toward the toys.
Five-year-old La Monte’ Sanders and 7-year-old Eric Haynes, both of Kankakee, had their eyes fixed on toys of the car variety, picking out things such as Hot Wheels, an MC Rock Crawler and an RC Monster jam Truck.
Za’Miyah Franks, 5, of Bourbonnais, had a cart piled high with toys like a bow and arrow set from the film “Tangled” and a Barbie cash register.
Aubree Hill, 6, of Kankakee, took a glance at the board games, classic and newer ones, until she landed on the beloved game of Operation.
“It was an amazing event,” Low said. “It was staggering at times, but we had many more volunteers than last year that helped so the children didn’t have to wait as long.
“Meijer was such a blessing to us this year,” Low said. “Hopefully, we can work with them every year going forward. This program continues to grow, and we can help more children because people are starting to learn about it.”