An open letter from Toys for Tots:

Kent County Toys for Tots is in search of storage and work space in the Greater Grand Rapids area. Without a permanent home, we may not be able to continue our program because the local marine unit will be moving to Battle Creek in 2018 and we will no longer have local marine support or a base of operations.

For many years we had a home donated by Steelcase on the campus at 44th Street and Eastern Avenue. Since that property was sold over a decade ago, we have moved around almost every year (some years more than once), and it has become a burden. What we need is about 5,000 square feet of secure storage space year round with an additional 10,000 to 15,000 feet of secure work space from mid-November to mid-January. Ideally we need a loading dock for transporting the toys to the distribution sites and a garage door for our local drivers to drop off the collected toys.

We would need the area to be accessible to our committee members mainly in the evening and on the weekends as the majority of us work full time jobs. There would be little if any access from mid-January to late October. We do not need to be the only ones using the warehouse space, but security is a concern since upwards of 24,000 gifts would be on site in the weeks prior to distribution.

We can help with the cost of utilities, but as a non-profit organization we do not have funds available to pay rent for storage and work space. However we can offer a possible tax write-off for the donated space.

We are blessed with a very generous community in Kent County that allows us to provide toys for more than 8,000 children directly, and occasionally, assist the adjoining counties that frequently run short on donations. We work closely with the Santa Claus Girls and the Salvation Army to make sure each program has what they need to operate each year. The Kent County Toys for Tots committee includes several members with over 25 years of service. Local corporate support for the program is great too, with goods, toys, volunteers and financial donations coming in from more than 350 large and small companies in Kent County. The missing piece is a home. Everything else is in place for us to continue as a successful program in 2018.

If this sounds like something you would be interested in discussing, please let us know.

Sincerely,

Kent County Toys for Tots Committee Members

Catherine Behrendt catherinebehrendt@wzzm13.com 616-559-1481

Debra VanderLaan dmv34larry@yahoo.com 616-262-8414

Mindy Pierman mindy.pierman@gmail.com 616-901-7602