Witnessing the joyful faces of kids as they walk in and see a wonderland of toys…how those faces light up with delight.

And that pure innocence of a child who snuggles a cuddly teddy bear or whispers into their mother’s ear in hopes of owning that special toy they just spotted. These scenes at the toy distribution center are familiar every year, yet unique at the same time as families arrive to choose toys for their children.

The United Way of Grand Forks/East Grand Forks coordinates this local National Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots drive each year during the holiday season. Many volunteers collect toy donations, set up the distribution site, count and sort toy donations, and distribute toys to children/families. It is a privilege to work side by side with the good folks at United Way, Pat Berger and Liza Martinez, and my fellow EAPC Crew.

EAPC has been volunteering at the Toys for Tots distribution event for the past four years. The venues may change, and the mix of EAPCers may change, but that feeling of hope and joy for families in need remains constant.

Casey Hutton, EAPC architect and volunteer says the impact of the Toys for Tots program is significant.

“My favorite part of this event is seeing the excited look in the eyes of parents when they realize that this program is going to help them put this same excited look into their children’s eyes on Christmas morning.”

A special thank you to all EAPC volunteers over the last four years and a shout out to the 2017 EAPC Crew.

EAPC 2017 Toys for Tots Volunteer Crew: Heidi Marto, Riley Olson, Casey Hutton, Bob Adams, Lori Bakken

Heidi Marto has been a Toys for Tots EAPC Crew member since 2014 and says volunteering for Toys for Tots is something she looks forward to every year.

“I have a heart for activities that help others, so I appreciate that EAPC provides opportunities for employees to give back to their community by getting involved in events like Toys for Tots. Helping a family find a toy or gift that suits the interests of their individual children is rewarding. It is also nice to take a break from holiday craziness and celebrate the season by working alongside my fellow EAPCers.”