Goal is 'magical' Christmas for all kids

MICHIGAN CITY – Christmas season is upon us and that means children are hoping for that special toy, and the Marines are making sure they get it.

"The holiday season is here and while you’re planning your holiday festivities and celebrations, we ask you to remember that not every child is expecting a magical Christmas," said Jerry Schmidt, La Porte County coordinator of Marine Corps Reserve's annual Toys for Tots campaign, conducted locally by Michiana Marine Detachment 1348.

"But with your help, Toys for Tots can fulfill its mission of spreading the spirit of Christmas by delivering millions of new toys to less fortunate children. The more donations Toys for Tots can raise now, from caring people like you, the more children will have presents to unwrap on Christmas morning," said

Toys for Tots collection boxes are already up at dozens of La Porte County businesses, and a series of special events are also planned to raise funds and collect toys.

Frank Keszei, president and CEO of the Frank L. Keszei Funeral Home Essling Chapel, one of the collection sites, says the campaign is personal for him.

"The objectives are to help less fortunate children throughout La Porte County and the United States experience the joy of Christmas," he said.

"On a personal note, my grandmother was a Gold Star Mother. My uncle and namesake, Sgt. Frank Keszei, was killed during WWII. I can't imagine how hard it was for my grandmother to have lost a son in the war, and have several other young children at home," Keszei said.

"Toys For Tots would have been such a great program for her to have. Let's honor all the less fortunate and make Christmas special for the children."

He invites area residents to drop off new toys at the office at 1117 Indiana Ave. in La Porte on Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The last drop-off date is Dec. 16.

Other collection boxes for new, unwrapped toys for children ages infant to 12 are in various business locations throughout La Porte County, according to Schmidt. They include:

MICHIGAN CITY: Al's Supermarkets (Franklin Street and Karwick Plaza), American Legion Post 37, Antique Market of Michigan City (U.S. 421 on Frontage Road), Anytime Fitness, Arbor Glen Apartments (Barker Road), Barker Pub, Blue Chip Casino, Hotel and Spa; Buffalo Wild Wings, Burger King, Carlson's, Castle Ford, City Hall, City Lanes, DAV, Davita Dialysis, Design Center Inc., Dollar General (Duneland Plaza and Michigan Boulevard), Eaton Chiropractic, Elks Lodge, Farm Bureau Insurance (Johnson Road), 501 Beauty Salon, 1st Source Bank, Geisen-Carlisle Funeral Home, Go-Lo Gas Station (Greenwood and Woodland), Harley-Davidson, Hearthside Food Solutions, Hick's Chiropractic, Image House Beauty Salon, Jazzercise, KnuckleHeads Bar & Grill, Lakefront Salon, Member's Advantage Credit Union (Ohio Street), Menards, Michiana Humane Society, Metro T-Mobile, O'Brien Tires, Patrick's Grille, Popcorn World, Redeemed Fellowship Church, Schoop's, MC Senior Center, St. Joe Club, Starbucks, Texas Corral, Timm's Barber Shop, Timothy Jeffry Salon, Trail Creek Liquors, VFW (800 Earl Rd.), Von Tobel Lumber, Walmart, Walgreen's (U.S. 20 at U.S. 421).

LAPORTE: Al's Supermarket, American Legion Post 83, Anytime Fitness, Arconic, American Licorice, Back Roads Brewery, Beacon Medical, BIG Ford (Lincolnway), Burger King, City Hall, Dollar General Stores (State Road, and State Road 4), Farm Bureau Insurance (Boyd Boulevard), Fast Eddie's, Fifth Third Bank, 1st Source Bank (SR 2), Gurrola Chiropractic, Hair Diva, Hair Fitness, Hawkin's Print Shop, Healthy Life, Ideal Perspective, Kabelin Hardware (East and West), Kroger Food Store, La Porte County Builder's Association, La Porte Chrysler, La Porte Chamber of Commerce, La Porte Co-op, La Porte County Solid Waste, La Porte Community FCU (Jefferson Street), La Porte VFW, La Porte Yacht Club, La Porte YMCA, McColly Real Estate, Metro PCS, Mike's Country Store, Monroe Collectibles, Oak Woods Manor, Parents & Friends, Sam's Hilltop Bar and Grill, Sauer's Buick, State Farm Insurance (Pine Lake Avenue), Walgreen's (East and West) and Walmart.

LONG BEACH: Long Beach YMCA, Long Beach Town Hall


WESTVILLE: Casey's, Dollar General, Purdue University Northwest Book Store, 1st Source Bank, BP gas station, University Apartments, Sweet Lou's, Olga's Place, New Durham Estates and Horizon Bank.

WANATAH: Horizon Bank, Kankakee Valley REMC, Wanatah Town Hall, Old REMC Building

LaCROSSE: Dave & Lola's

Monetary donations are accepted as well and checks should be made payable to Toys for Tots and mailed to Michiana Marine Detachment 1348, P.O. Box 8873, Michigan City, 46360. All donations are tax deductible.

Anyone interested in displaying a toy collection box or cash donation box should call 219-851-5526.

And any families in La Porte County needing toys for their children are asked to contact your township trustee, or the Salvation Army in Michigan City or La Porte to sign up.


Among the special events planned in conjunction with the annual toy drive:

• Hesston Steam Museum will have collection boxes displayed and will be offering one free ride on the Candy Cane Express for each new toy donated. The Candy Cane Express will run the weekends of Nov. 30-Dec. 1 and Dec. 7-8.

• Decoy's Bar & Grill will host The Battle of the Bars Bowling Tournament at City Lanes in Michigan City on Saturday, Nov. 23, at 2 p.m. For further information, contact Decoy's.

• Johnny V's 8th annual Neil Young Tribute "Heart of Gold Benefit Concert" will be Dec. 7 at 7:30 p.m. at the Holdcraft Performing Arts Center at 1200 Spring St. in Michigan City. Beneficiaries from this year's event include Toys for Tots, Young People's Theater Co., and Remembering Our Veterans. General admission is $25 and VIP packages are available online. Visit yptcinc.com/tickets for tickets or information. Guests are welcome to bring toys to benefit Toys for Tots.

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