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By DAVE HINTON
Rantoul Press editor
Reduced funding from various sources has left the Community Service Center Holiday Bureau Toy Drive in Rantoul short for this Christmas season giveaway.
For the past 30 years the toy drive has given out toys to children in needy families.
Last year, 600 children received toys.
It takes about $18,000 to hold the event each year, according to Judi Mott, toy drive volunteer chairman. To date, the drive is about $4,000 short.
The toy drive receives grant money, toy donations and money from fundraisers from several sources. Local churches also donate.
Pizza Hut conducts two fundraisers annually for the toy drive, Mott said. In addition, individuals donate toys that they place in tubs in local stores.
Much of the money the Holiday Bureau has received has come through grants, but the grant levels have been down the past two years as so many organizations are struggling due to the down economy.
“We usually get $2,000 from Wal-Mart, and for the last two years they’ve given us nothing,” Mott said. “We do receive a grant from the Orange Krush, and we did get a grant from the Rantoul Community Foundation.”
Wal-Mart, however, is setting up a tree at its customer service desk for the toy drive. It will include gingerbread men tags on it with a child’s age, gender and gift suggestion.
People take a tag, buy the gift and turn it in to the service desk. All gifts stay in the Rantoul area.
Grant money available has been stretched thin.
“The problem is there’s so much funding that’s been dropped … (because) everyone is putting in grant requests for them,” Mott said.
Organizers are asking for donations of toys and funds. Checks can be brought or mailed to Community Service Center in Rantoul. Donors should write “for toy drive” on the memo line of the check.
Call Community Service Center at 893-1530 with questions.
Mott said a number of volunteers help her with the toy drive. More are needed.
“We’re always looking for volunteers to help,” she said.
Signup is ongoing through Nov. 21 for children to receive toys through the toy drive. The toy drive will be held Dec. 10 and 11.
Normally held at Community Service Center, this year’s drive will be held at Bethany Park Christian Church.