The Toys for Tots boxes are becoming a common sight in Cedar Rapids and the surrounding communities, with the hope that more children will have a merrier Christmas.
The annual toy drive began with Major Bill Hendricks, a retired member of the US Marine Corps in 1947. That year, 5,000 toys was collected during a campaign for Christmas.
The United States Marine Corps adopted Toys for Tots in 1948, and expanded it into a nationwide co project as the U. S. Marine Corps Reserves Toys for Tots Program. Marines at each Reserve Center in each community collects the toys and distributes them during an annual event.
Those wishing to donate can bring an unwrapped toys to any of the boxes located at various businesses in our area. Dollar General, Hy-Vee, and Tommy’s Restaurant are just a few of the local businesses participating this year.
The primary goal of Toys for Tots is to deliver a message of hope to the children who receive a toy through the generosity of strangers, which will help them become more productive and responsible adults.
A few changes are coming to the Young Parents Network, 420 6th Street SE. It will now be known simply at YPN.
Young Parents Network was founded in 1985. This group of 34 young moms, with the help of Mercy Medical Center, thrived the first year, and soon a separate group was added in 1988 for young dads with the support of the Hall Perrine Foundation.
It was recently announced that Young Parent's Network is changing its branding and will now be known simply as "YPN."
A variety of programs exists for YPN members, including the opportunity to "shop" in YPN's onsite market. Members earn points that they can be used in the "We Care Shop." Here they can "purchase" clothing, toys, and diapers with the points they have accumulated. Parents receive points from anything from attending the weekly family nights at Polk Elementary School, and keeping up-to-date with well-child checks and vaccinations, to earning their GED.
Donations for the We Care shop are currently being accepted YPN, 420 6th Street SE, Suite #180 (in the Mercy Sister Mary Lawrence Community Center) in Cedar Rapids, IA. Standard donation hours are Monday-Thursday 8 am – 4 pm and Fridays from 8 am – Noon.
YPN also provides a chance for parents to Christmas shop for their children. Local sponsors assist in purchasing gifts that the parents can pick out for their children. YPN volunteers then wrap the gifts for the parents to give to their children on Christmas Day.
For more information about the program, or to learn how you can help this organization so vital to our community, visit their website
In My Father's Footsteps
My Father's Life, in His Words
"My father was a great teacher. He taught me how to tie my shoes and how to climb a tree. He taught me the words to some of his favorite songs, and how to savor the last bite of ice cream in my bowl.
And while I am grateful for the lessons, what I cherish most are the stories he left behind ...."
Tom Meis died Sept. 6, 2008, but it wasn't until a few years later that a manuscript of his life was found. His daughter, Cindy was cleaning her mom's store room when she found a box that was filled with pages of her dad's memories, stories about his life, and growing up in Cedar Rapids.
As she read his stories, she learned more about her father than she never imagined.
The stories gave her a chance to get to now the man she called her father, and now she is sharing that with the world.