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Donations, volunteers needed for Christmas toy drive at Hemmens

Volunteers Naomi Murdoch (left) AarMarket load toys last year  Hemmens Cultural Center Elgfor annual community toy drive. The toy

Volunteers Naomi Murdoch (left) and Aaron Market load toys last year at Hemmens Cultural Center in Elgin for the annual community toy drive. The toy drive giveaway this year takes place on Dec. 18. | Sun-Times Media file

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Updated: November 25, 2013 12:39PM

ELGIN — Organizers are seeking support for the annual Elgin Community Holiday Toy Giveaway to be held at Hemmens Cultural Center.

The giveaway will take place on Dec. 18, with setup the day before.

“We were fortunate to once again receive a donation from EFS Foundation to cover the cost of (renting) Hemmens,” Mary Hyatt said.

Hyatt is a member of the Community Crisis Center Board of Directors and coordinator of the toy giveaway, which also collects toys and donations to buy them.

In 2012, Elgin began charging anyone who uses the city-owned and operated venue, including nonprofits that used to get to use the facility at a reduced rate or gratis. For 2014, the council is considering adjusting those fees.

Last year, the EFS Foundation covered the costs, as it will this time. According to the foundation’s website, it was “established in 1998 to help and support charitable organizations designed to strengthen a broad spectrum of community projects and programs in Elgin and close surrounding communities.”

In 2011, the effort gave toys to 1,015 families and a total of 2,770 kids. Last year, those involved collected items and money to give out 6,000 toys to 2,800 children from more 1,000 families.

“We anticipate an increase in numbers this year,” Hyatt said.

About 300 people volunteer annually to help. The program has been taking place for more than 20 years and is open to families in Elgin and South Elgin. Adults can take two gifts for each child, and organizers say that more than half the recipient families have Medicaid cards.

While the Community Crisis Center is the lead agency for the effort, 30 organizations including local businesses, clubs, schools, and community groups also are involved.

Anyone who would like to donate money to the effort can mail a check to the Community Crisis Center, PO Box 1390, Elgin, IL, 60121. Checks should be made payable to the Community Crisis Center and be noted as for the toy giveaway in the memo field.

New unwrapped toys may be taken to the Grand Victoria Casino pavilion and placed under the tree anytime between Nov. 29 and Dec. 16. Toys also may be dropped off at the Elgin Township Office, 729 S. McLean Blvd. And toys may be taken to the Hemmens Cultural Center’s west side delivery door on Dec. 17 between noon and 4 p.m. where volunteers can help unload toys.

Volunteers are needed for set up on Dec. 17 and distribution Dec. 18. On Dec. 18, one volunteer per shift is needed to monitor the snack/coat room. Bilingual volunteers also are needed to help parents register and shop.

To help, call 847-742-4088 Ext. 304 (Toy Giveaway line) or e-mail

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