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Toys for Tots

Miranda Crabtree, a Nashua-Plainfield senior, and North Iowa Toys for Tots Coordinator Ernie Martinez prepare toys for distribution last year.

MASON CITY | The boxes are out and ready for toys.

That’s what North Iowa Toys for Tots Coordinator Ernie Martinez said last Tuesday morning about the program that operates as part of the national U.S. Marine Corps Reserve by providing toys to thousands of area children in need for Christmas.

“There’s no better expression than how those kids feel on Christmas morning,” said Ernie Martinez, North Iowa Toys for Tots coordinator.

North Iowa Toys for Tots serves between 2,000 and 5,000 children from infants to teenagers across a 12-county area, including Butler, Cerro Gordo, Chickasaw, Franklin, Floyd, Hancock, Howard, Kossuth, Mitchell, Winnebago, Worth and Wright counties.

To do so, it collects new, unwrapped toys as well as cash donations, which are used to purchase toys, through December at locations throughout North Iowa.

“This whole program works because of the community and the people who sponsor it,” Martinez said.

The toys will be distributed for Butler, Cerro Gordo, Floyd, Franklin, Hancock, Winnebago, Worth and Wright counties in Mason City on Dec. 18 and 19. Distribution dates for the other counties haven’t been determined yet.

To participate in the program, applications are will be accepted at the Salvation Army in Mason City from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Nov. 12-14. Martinez said for people who miss applying those days can do so on Dec. 5.

“We really do want to stress that giving out toys is a mission for us, Marines. That’s our job,” he said. “We’re honored to help people who need money to survive on. Let us take care of the toys. We have no problem with that

For more information about North Iowa Toys for Tots, visit its website, its Facebook page or call 641-420-5195.

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Reach Reporter Ashley Stewart at 641-421-0533. Follow her on Twitter at GGastewart.

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