Tristan Martinez, center, goes “shopping” for local children in need Wednesday evening. The Knights of Columbus will reach more than 240 children this year alone with the Toys for Tots Program. L&T photo/Jessica Crawford
Knights and volunteers hit the streets Saturday delivering Toys for Tots to about 150 local families
By JESSICA CRAWFORD
• Leader & Times
Since 1947, the Toys for Tots Program has been bringing Christmas to children in need that otherwise may not have very much under the tree on Christmas morning. Liberal’s Knights of Columbus did their part this year and were more than happy to help.
Grand Knight Sergio Padilla explained just how the process worked as he, along with other Knights of Columbus members and volunteers, went “shopping” for local children in need.
“We are sorting the gifts by age group and by boy and girl,” Padilla said. “Then we gather up, get the volunteers together, we have the people who have applied, they go along and go shopping. There are no names, no addresses, they try to find an appropriate toy or if they ask specifically for something, they will acquire that. We pack them all up and come back on Saturday and deliver them. It is throughout Seward County.”
Padilla said the American Red Cross and United Methodist Mexican American Ministries are the organizations that supply the list of children in need.
“They go down to the American Red Cross, they help us out,” he said. “Also, United Methodist Mexican American Ministries, they help us out too – that is how you apply. We have a process where we go through them all and make sure everything is together on the application.”
Padilla wasn’t certain of an exact dollar amount for this year’s donations, however, last year he said it nearly reached $8,000.
“I haven’t really put the figures together for this year, but last year we gave almost $8,000 worth of toys away,” he said. “I don’t remember how many families we had last year, but this year we had 150 to 160 families. There were about 240 kids, maybe a little bit more than that.”
The large number of toys don’t just magically find their way to the tables at the Knights of Columbus Hall, they are donated by many organizations and individuals throughout the City of Liberal – and quite possibly, beyond.
“Several organizations throughout town donate, schools have gathered up to have competitions, we have put boxes out at Pizza Hut, Hutch’s, Dillons, Wal-Mart and other places and asked for donations,” Padilla said. “The majority of it, we did BINGO and took some of the BINGO proceeds all year long and we buy the toys.
“We just do whatever it takes,” he concluded. “We have a raffle, we have a Harley run, we have companies that donate a lot. That is a big help to us also. There are things throughout the year that put this together.”