ELYRIA — On Friday afternoon, two men walked into The Chronicle-Telegram’s lobby armed with dozens of gift bags full of books, warm-weather accessories, stickers and coloring books that will find their way to Elyria children through the Elyria Salvation Army.
By the end of the toy drive, more than 450 will be donated.
This is the second year Roger Merton of Buyers Outlet in Cleveland and Steve Nelson of Nelson Insurance Agency have coordinated the effort to finance, assemble and deliver the gift bags before the Not-Forgotten Box deadline.
But they are not alone in this quest.
Their squad includes dozens of businesses and individuals who want to help. (A complete list of donors will appear in the paper at a later date.)
“Merchants like the idea because it’s not a toy that will get played with once and put on a shelf,” Nelson said. “Kids are always missing something, losing a hat or needing a book to read. This is perfect for them.”
Nelson said he starts in October soliciting monetary donations to go toward the purchase of the bags. Each has a value of $20, but cost each business $10.
“I look at it from a merchant standpoint,” Merton said. “They want to help, but may not have the time to go to a toy store, buy a toy and drop it off.”
On Friday, Nelson and Merton made several trips to bring in all the bags. They hope to return for the first curbside drop-off 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. today with more. At that time, donors can leave donations with Chronicle-Telegram employees.
The goal this year is 8,000 toys for 600 to 615 families with more than 1,800 children. The total is about 100 families more than the number helped last year through the assistance program.
This year marks 55 years the toy drive has been in existence.
New, unwrapped toys and gifts will be accepted for boys and girls ages infant to 14.
The greatest need is for boys and girls ages 12, 13 and 14 years old. Toy options for that age group include mp3 players, cologne sets, nail polish kits, makeup sets, footballs and basketballs, among other items.