Stacee Hetzel never worried for one minute that there would be too few toys and too many kids.
Even last Monday when the number of families seeking toys for their children had reached a record high, and the number of toys needed to fill those orders was slightly behind, Hetzel knew it would work out.
“It always does. Some how, it just always works out. We’ve made some store runs during the day, we did run out of gifts for the teens, or junior high and older,” Hetzel said. “That’s a hard group to buy for, and we don’t get so many things for the older kids, but we restocked.”
On Saturday, with the Toys for Kids new warehouse shelves stacked high and stocked full, parents came to select gifts for their kids. With a volunteer’s assistance, and a list in hand, parents who had registered for the program could select toys and gifts for their children. This year, some 586 families were registered, and toys were needed for 1,460 kids.
This is the sixth consecutive December in Brown County that a month-long collection drive has made it possible for those who could not otherwise purchase gifts for their children for Christmas to provide toys.
Dennis and Wanda Thacker, Hetzel’s parents founded the Toys for Kids program for Brown County families in 2002, as a celebration for Dennis Thacker’s cancer being in remission. His cancer returned and was diagnosed soon after the 2004 Toys for Kids drive, and in 2005, he was in treatment, but he wanted the program to continue.
The Thackers’ daughters, including Hetzel, Carrie Martinez and Krissi Prince, and their families, carried on as a tribute to their father. Dennis Thacker died in February of 2006, and that year the drive was done in his memory.
But also that year, Wanda Thacker was able to purchase a warehouse-sized building on Belle Plain to give the program a permanent home.
“It keeps growing and evolving,” Thacker said Saturday. “It’s just bigger than ever. Dennis would be so pleased — and we’re so proud, and so thankful to the community for coming through again for the kids.”
If the toy supply was lagging at the start of last week, a number of community drives got the toys on the shelves for Saturday.
“Bruner and Randolph had a contest and brought in truckloads of toys,” Hetzel said. “I don’t know who had the most — but the kids, the families, the one’s we’re trying to help, won.
“KOXE held a drive, also on Wednesday, and brought in $5,000 and a horse trailer full of toys.”