GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — This holiday season, thousands of children across West Michigan registered for the Toys for Tots program.
After toys were collected for weeks, they were handed out at Saturday's distribution day at St. Peter and Paul Church in Grand Rapids. About 4,000 kids received toys at the Kent County distribution center.
This was the first year that Toys for Tots registered people for the program online.
"Our numbers have gone up significantly," said Mindy Pierman, the site coordinator for the distribution site. Last year, about 1,100 kids got gifts at that site, and this year, that number nearly quadrupled.
"It's the difference between a kid getting no gift or getting a nice gift," said Pierman.
Jennifer Young visited the distribution day Saturday and left with baby dolls and Nerf guns for her three daughters and son in the age range for Toys for Tots.
"It's nice to be able to come out and kind of shop for them and pick items you know they will like," said Young. "Especially when you know they are usually behaving."
Young said that it can be hard when children are told to be nice all year to get gifts and then they might wonder why their friends get presents and not them.
"It's just exciting for them to open everything up. We take a lot of time taking turns opening everything, taking pictures. It's the one time of year that they get to receive more gifts. There's a lot of times during the year they don't get to receive as many gifts."
Toys for Tots was founded in 1947.
13 ON YOUR SIDE has been a longtime partner with Toys for Tots. We hold an annual School Spirit Challenge where schools compete to collect the most toys.The results of that challenge can be seen here.
Other stories on 13 ON YOUR SIDE:
- Jenison elementary students deliver hundreds of toys to children's hospital
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- Santa's reindeer get OK from vet to make journey around the world
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