PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Tuesday morning, several members of the Marine Corps, all from Central Illinois, loaded a truck with all the donations collected for Toys for Tots.
The marines, alongside Santa Claus and some helpers, gathered at Walters Brothers Harley-Davidson in Peoria for the 33rd year.
Near the back of the motorcycle shop was a Christmas tree clustered with toys, stuffed animals, and even some bicycles. The staff has also been raising money for the cause, and are in fact one of the biggest benefactors this year.
Staff Sergeant Marcos Noyola, Toys for Tots Coordinator for Peoria and Tazewell Counties, said they are able to reach more than 5,000 children this holiday season.
“So far, this has been the largest quantity of toys we’ve got from anybody in the county. It’s close to 1,500 toys today that we’ll be loading up,” said Noyola. “It’s quite an accomplishment from Harley-Davidson and the team here.”
This Toys for Tots collection is in conjunction with the 86th Annual Bruce’s Turkey Run for Toys for Tots in early November.
Noyola said this is his first year acting as the Toys for Tots coordinator, and for him, it hits close to home.
“My mother was a recipient of Toys for Tots. She’s a single mother, seven kids. So I was a recipient of Toys for Tots when I was a kid,” he said. “When I got the opportunity to take over the position, I volunteered.”
He said after Toys for Tots gave him so much joy growing up, he now gets to give that to other families.
“It comes full circle,” he said. “It just impacts me in a different way. Knowing– especially, hits home for my mom, and seeing how she always tried to provide a great Christmas for us and knowing now that we can do that for other people as well and give them that same feeling.”