Teri Wall, from left, Kimberly Saari and Alana Yankowitz are putting on Tea for Toys from noon to 2 p.m. Tuesday. The event is a luncheon to support this year’s Toys for Tots campaign.

Photo by John F. Russell

Teri Wall, from left, Kimberly Saari and Alana Yankowitz are putting on Tea for Toys from noon to 2 p.m. Tuesday. The event is a luncheon to support this year’s Toys for Tots campaign.

Toys for Tots kicks off with a tea party in Steamboat

300 Routt County families benefited from donated toys last year

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Drop off

Toys for Tots drop-off locations in Routt County:

Steamboat Lumber

Steamboat Motors

K. Saari Gallery

F.M. Light & Sons

City Market

Safeway

Alpiner Lodge

Wildhorse Salon

Sign up

Sign up to receive gifts from Toys for Tots this year at www.toysfortots.org, through Routt County United Way or by calling 970-879-6184.

— Teri Wall will remember that Christmas for the rest of her life. She was 10 years old, and she got a Mary Poppins doll with luggage, a Barbie doll airplane that opened up so you could see the inside and matching dresses for her and her sister.

Her single mother couldn’t afford gifts that year, but a local nonprofit provided the donated gifts and the irreplaceable magic of Christmas morning.

“Having a child go without anything, especially during the holidays, it really rips me up,” Wall said Friday.

Two years ago, Teri and her husband, Gary L. Wall, took over the local Toys for Tots campaign, a U.S. Marine Corps Reserve program that helps provide gifts to needy families.

More than 300 families signed up last year, and Teri Wall said she thinks the need could be even greater this year.

She had a few helper elves come out of the woodwork to help expand the program.

Local art gallery owner Kimberly Saari teamed up with Key Events’ Alana Yankowitz and Katie West to throw a luncheon fundraiser next week at K. Saari Gallery.

Tea for Toys is from noon to 2 p.m. Tuesday and features a catered lunch and vintage teacups that guests can take home.

Tickets are $25 per person or $45 for two people, and guests are encouraged to bring their gift donations to the party.

“We really wanted to bring all of the lovely ladies in town together who we know care about this cause,” Saari said about Tuesday’s event. Of course, men and children also are invited.

Up for raffle at the event is a special treasure: a necklace that once belonged to Dr. Laura Schlessinger. Someone anonymously left the necklace, worth hundreds of dollars, in a donation bin last year.

“It surprised me and touched me,” Wall said about the generosity of the local community throughout the program.

In addition to during the luncheon, toys can be dropped off at one of the several handmade boxes located across town during the next two weeks. Cash can be donated at www.toysfortots.org under the Routt County program page.

The Routt County campaign is led by coordinator John Kowall, of the Colorado Springs Toys for Tots program, and the Walls act as the local assistant coordinators.

She said Toys for Tots is looking for new, unwrapped toys for children as old as 18. The teen years can be a neglected demographic, she said, and they’re just as liable to feel left out at the holidays if their family can’t afford gifts.

Gift cards work well, and used bikes in good condition also are allowed.

The Toys for Tots store, for recipients in the program, will open Dec. 18 at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church at Eighth and Oak streets.

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