LAGRANGE — Adult clients from Triad Residential Solutions in Grafton helped sort the dozens upon dozens of boxes of items for Toys for Tots of Lorain County on Tuesday.
Clients from Triad spent the morning peeling off price tags and scratching out the barcodes on the donated items at the former Keystone elementary and middle school building on Liberty Street.
The volunteer effort helps teach clients job skills, said Jeanie Simon, day program coordinator for the Triad. This year is Triad’s second year of volunteering for the program run by the United States Marine Corps Reserve.
About 4,000 items are held at the space in LaGrange, with even more expected to come in by Dec. 15 for the distribution day. Items are separated by gender and age, from newborn to 16 years old, on different shelves and boxes. Once all the items are prepared, sorted and counted, parents will come to the gymnasium of the building to pick out and choose one to two gifts for their children as well as a stocking stuffer of smaller items.
Debby Schieve, event coordinator for Lorain County Toys for Tots, said she and the program are grateful to have the space in LaGrange. The program has had a difficult time finding a permanent place and usually need to jump around from space to space.
“It suits us well; it’s perfect fit and we’re thrilled,” she said.
When Toys for Tots coordinator Christy Howard sent out a mass email to anyone who had either volunteered with the organization in the past or had helped in any way, one reached Marie Strauss — LaGrange Mayor Kim Strauss’ wife. Strauss took the idea of using the former school to Village Council and, after it was approved, let Howard know it was available.
This year, Toys for Tots will have a room to store leftover items for next year’s event. Mayor Strauss said he was happy to offer the space.
“I think it’s fantastic anytime we can help the Marines and Toys for Tots,” he said.
The addition of Toys for Tots to the LaGrange area created some concern that its collection would affect the Keystone girls’ softball team’s annual collection for toys for needy families in LaGrange. Schieve said that has been alleviated and the team will also be helping volunteer for Toys for Tots.
“There is no competition. We’re all trying to help kids and it was just some confusion,” she said.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.