ELYRIA — They come from all walks of life with one goal in mind — to make sure Elyria kids have a wonderful Christmas.
There was the Leadership Lorain County Class of 2014 that came armed with dozens of toys to delights boys and girls alike.
“November was social awareness month, and it brought to mind the people who are in need right here in our community,” said Chris Kish, project manager for Team Lorain County and a member of the 2014 class. “When it was put out there that we should do a toy drive, the response was overwhelming. We knew we could help.”
Then, there was 4-year-old Jillian Markowich.
She came armed Thursday afternoon with four toys and gladly dropped each into the red donation box in The Chronicle-Telegram lobby. Board games, a toy truck and a girl’s jewelry making kit were the items she picked out.
“This is a good lesson for her,” said her grandfather, Don Golden of Elyria. “We’re trying to coach her to give to those less fortunate than her.”
Every year, the stories of who gives the toys may change, but the reason never does. The annual Not-Forgotten Box toy drive is a success year after year because of the collective community notion that every child should have something to ooh and ahh over this holiday season.
This year marks 55 years that The Chronicle has solicited gifts in partnership with the local Salvation Army.
The goal this year is a big one — 8,000 toys for 600 to 615 families consisting of more than 1,800 children. The total is more than 100 families more than those who were helped last year through the assistance program.
As Elyria Salvation Army Major Bob Sears put it, the turnaround in the economy felt in other parts of the country has yet to materialize in Elyria.
“We only see an increase in people needing help,” he said when the toy drive kicked off just before Thanksgiving.
Elyrians and others have always done their part to help, and new donors take up the cause each year.
Thursday, it was Mic Fairbanks of Elyria and his 7-year-old son, Kyle. The first-time donors said they just recently learned of the toy drive and knew they could help.
Hockey sticks and board games were their much-appreciated donation.