Toys for Tots pick-up will go on despite weather

Despite forecasts calling for freezing rain and snow, pick-up for Toys for Tots will go on as scheduled Saturday and Sunday.

Pick-up for registered families runs from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the old Rock Island Country Market on 24th Street. Families need to stop by on their assigned day, regardless of the weather.

Friday, volunteers were busy packing up the final 326 bags of toys. Many of the volunteers, known as “warehouse elves,” work 10 to 12 hours a day for Toys for Tots entire 8-week run.

“The volunteers are the cement of the foundation. If it wasn’t for the volunteers that I have come in and the groups that I bring in, we wouldn’t be able to do this,” said warehouse coordinator Judy Thurman.

This year, 3,964 people registered for the gifts. Organizers say the number of 2013 registrants is very similar to last year.

Volunteer Joi Marie Paudel said the large number of families in need of help is what keeps her coming back.

“We realized just how much families need this time of year,” said Paudel. “For me, it’s just the thought that they’re going to get up on Christmas morning, and there’s going to be something there for them. That’s what makes it worth it.”

This weekend, the hard work pays off, and organizers say it’s all thanks to donations from a generous Quad City community.

“Some in come in, and they’ll hug you. People come in crying because they’re so happy they have toys for their kids,” said Thurman. “They’re going to have toys under the tree. They don’t have to know where they came from, they just know that they have toys.”

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