La Crosse Jaycees continue tradition of helping families through holiday season

The La Crosse Jaycees were outside the La Crosse Center on Friday to accept toys for kids who might not otherwise receive a gift during the holiday season. This isn’t the first time they’ve held this type of drive. The Toys For Tots collection has been a tradition for more than 80 years.

The toy drive is an important tradition for the La Crosse Jaycees.

“We really would not want any children to wake up without toys on Christmas Day. It would be awful if a child would experience that,” said Amanda Olbrys, co-chair for the 2018 Toys for Tots event.

Group members have held a couple of registration days at the Salvation Army for people who would like to receive a gift. One of the best parts about this program is that anyone can sign up, no questions asked.

“You might just be having a bad year,” said Olbrys about some of the people who may need to receive a toy.

Anyone registering for a gift isn’t expected to say how much they make or provide any personal information.

“We don’t need to know any of that information. It’s really none of our business. We just want to help you get through the season,” Olbrys said.

What they do ask is what the child would like as a present. The Jaycees will try to match that as best as they can.

“If we don’t have that particular item, we’ll try to find something that fits as close as possible, but most of the time, we do have what they’re wanting,” said DJ Olbrys, co-chair of the event.

That’s why they’re looking for a wide range of gifts for children of all ages to fill up this truck.

“We’ve gotten board games, cars, firetrucks, Barbie dolls, just a whole mix of things,” DJ Olbrys said.

It’s not just the kids who are excited about the donated gifts. This is also for the parents.

“They’re pretty excited, ’cause they know it’s probably not something they can provide for their children. Knowing that someone can do that for them makes them very happy,” DJ Olbrys said.

The group is planning on helping upward of 1,200 kids this year, which is why every single donation matters.

“It’s really important that the community gets involved. We really need your help to keep this going every year,” Amanda Olbrys said.

If you missed the event and would like to donate a new present, News 8 is one of the drop-off locations during regular business hours. A full list of donation locations can be found here.

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