DeKalb journalist Eric Olson helps out at the Toys for Tots gift-giving.
Kathi Hogshead Davis and many volunteer helpers, including several retired Marines, work hard each year to make the Marine Corps Reserve’s annual toy drive and distribution a success. The generosity of families and companies in the area also is essential, and this year there was plenty of support.

It’s a good thing, too, because there clearly is a need in our community.

I helped five people through The Salvation Army building at 830 Grove St. in DeKalb in almost two hours, and each time I saw one person out the door, there was another waiting at the head of the line. There were people with as many as five children and people with as few as one. They were white, black and Latina.

All of them were moms, and if there’s one thing you can talk to a mom about, it’s her kids. Some talked about how advanced their child was, others about how big they’d grown or how much they’d changed since becoming teenagers.

All of them carefully scanned the toys, books, puzzles and clothing that covered folding tables, while I took their selections and put them into a bag. All of the people who I helped said they wanted to apply the personal touch of wrapping their own gifts, even though gift wrappers were available.
In Chicago, Commuter Rail operator Metra did its own version of the Holiday Train, setting up collection stations at the downtown termini on Friday past.

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