ELYRIA — Wow, wow, wow.
The Not-Forgotten Box hit its target of 8,000 toys Thursday — a day before the collection deadline — meaning children could be getting an extra toy or two under the tree thanks to the generosity of the community.
About 250 toys from the Elyria Fraternal Order of Police No. 30 and 400 toys from Firelands Elementary School helped push the drive over the threshold. By 5 p.m. Thursday, 8,303 toys had been collected.
“This is awesome,” said Lucy Goldsmith, customer service manager for The Chronicle-Telegram and Medina Gazette. “But, wait until Friday. I don’t think we’ve seen anything yet.”
As a special treat, Santa helped deliver toys to The Chronicle from Elyria police officers.
FOP President Dan Sumpter said fundraising from the James A. Kerstetter Memorial Car Show and the weekly summer Big Lots Cruise-in helped the union collect the money.
Kerstetter, a police sergeant killed in the line of duty in March 2010, would be proud of what the community and officers have accomplished, Sumpter said.
“He would be more than proud,” Sumpter said. “Not only do we do it for him, we do it for his family.”
The charity events help bring in money for scholarships for the children of police officers, including Kerstetter’s, whose second daughter, Shelby, will join her sister, Misty, at The Ohio State University in the fall.
The Salvation Army will distribute the toys next week to families that signed up in October, according to Major Robert Sears.
“We’re giving them 10 or 12 items at the minimum,” he said.
Some of the children whose names were placed on an “Angel Tree” will be getting clothing as well, he said.
Families also will get a food basket worth between $25 and $80 depending on the size of the family, he said.
“Today we brought in $21,000 worth of food,” Sears said.
This is the 54th year The Chronicle has led the drive to collect holiday gifts for area children, with the final donation period 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. today.
Sears said staff members at the Salvation Army are getting a little tired, but he said everyone is psyched up because the goal has been met and they know that dreams of a good Christmas for many will be realized.
“Dec. 26 is my favorite time of year,” Sears said, jokingly.
Contact Cindy Leise at 329-7245 or firstname.lastname@example.org.