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Toys for Joy helps collect, clean and give toys to families

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013 9:59 p.m. CDT
(Heidi Litchfield for Shaw Media)
Logan Cain eyes a toy he would like to find under his Christmas tree this year as his family picks out toys at Toys for Joy in Mazon.
(Heidi Litchfield for Shaw Media)
Jeannine Mech and Brandy Techmanski find toys for their children at Toys for Joy in Mazon Saturday.
(Heidi Litchfield for Shaw Media)
Jamie Brookman of Mazon puts out additional toys after the table was emptied by families seeking toys for their children for Christmas during Saturday's Toys for Joy event.

MAZON – There is nothing more joyful than a child opening their presents on Christmas morning, and the thought of a child going without a present breaks Tina Brookman’s heart.

“I don’t want anyone to struggle,” Brookman, of Mazon, said. “It’s harder for families right now, and it’s sad that it is this way. We want people to know they are not alone.”

For the past four years, Brookman along with her daughter, Jamie Brookman, and Kris Webster of Mazon, have been involved in collecting toys, cleaning them up and getting them to families who need them free of charge.

Toys for Joy is being held on the first three Saturdays of December at the Mazon United Methodist Church as a free event for families in need during the Christmas season to pick up toys and other items for their children.

They started collecting the toys around September when the all-town garage sales were held in Mazon. They put the word out not to throw away items that didn’t sell and to instead call them for pick-up.

“I couldn’t begin to say the amount of toys we receive,” Brookman said. “We collect them from all over and clean up whatever needs to be cleaned up.”

Webster even solicits the help of her co-workers at Caterpillar into gathering items for the annual toy give away.

“I get people at work to help and I go to different areas to pick up the toys,” Webster said. “I love seeing people get happy to find stuff.”

They try to keep the tables at the event geared to age groups and want to have items for children from newborn to teens.

They have started reaching out to people this year on Facebook using the group page for “People Helping People.”

“The idea of kids going without Christmas presents is heartbreaking,” Jamie Brookman said. “I can give up a couple of weekends to make sure every kid can have presents.”

But for all three it’s more than a couple of weekends. They are often online until the late hours of night and on the phone all day arranging for items to be picked up, delivered or seeking a need for a family who called for help.

Saturday was the first day of this year’s Toys for Joy event and they already served more than 90 families, more than they served in 2012.

They are running low on toys already this year because of the large demand and are actively seeking donations to be able to provide for the next two Saturdays.

They are asking residents of the community who have toys, children’s clothes – newborn to size 5 – purses, jewelry or items for older children to contact them so they can arrange pick up of the items.

For questions or donations, call Tina Brookman at 815-448-2715 or Kris Webster at 815-448-2132.

Toys for JoyDec. 7, 14 and 219 a.m. to 12 p.m.Mazon United Methodist Church at 509 7th St.Everyone is welcome and no qualifications are needed.

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