Dowagiac Fire Department urges community to donate to Toys for Tots drive

Published 10:11 am Monday, October 25, 2021

DOWAGIAC – The time to help children in need get toys for Christmas has come once again.

Honor Credit Union presented the Dowagiac Fire Department with a $750 check last Friday to unofficially kick off the local Toys for Tots drive, which the department has been organizing locally for more than a decade. All toys and money collected will benefit children and families throughout Cass County.

“We’re so thankful for everything they do in the community,” said Honor Credit Union Community Assistant Vice President Reifenberg, of the fire department. “Sometimes we take it for granted how the fire department is always there for the community. … And of course, with Toys for Tots, the thought of any child going without at least one toy for Christmas, if we can make an impact and help with that, that’s what we want to do.”

Reifenberg, Deputy Fire Chief Robert Smith and Lieutenant Tony Stewart stressed the importance of starting the program early this year. They want to make sure the community has a chance to start saving or pick up a toy when they happen to see a sale.

“It’s going to be difficult to fill the boxes this year because the price of toys keeps going up,” Stewart said. “You can’t really buy a toy for $10 anymore.”

Stewart said last year volunteers thought the drive was going to be difficult due to the pandemic, but the program ended up doing well. This year, Stewart is hoping the community will outdo expectations once again.

The fire department will be at Beckwith Park during the Greater Dowagiac Chamber of Commerce Christmas Open House Weekend from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 13 to collect toys and cash donations. Monetary donations can be especially useful for older children 10 to 13 years old, who may not want or need traditional children’s toys, Stewart said.

“The monetary donations will be taken by the Toys for Tots crew to buy additional toys to be distributed,” said Smith, who explained that when families sign up, they can request specific items and it can be easier to get exactly what the children want with a cash donation.

Boxes will be distributed by the fire department to drop-off locations on Nov. 1, collected by Dec. 16, and dropped off to the distribution center at Crooked Tree Church of Christ, 60550 Crooked Creek Road, Cassopolis, on Dec. 17.

Additionally, the fire department will be hosting a pancake breakfast at the fire station, 302 Wolf St., Dowagiac, from 8 a.m. to noon Sunday, Dec. 5 to benefit the toy drive. Children can come and take pictures with Santa Claus, and the station will be festively decorated. There will be no charge for entry, but monetary or toy gifts will be accepted.

“If we fill a box [of toys], we fill a box,” Smith said. “We’re just trying to do something different to get the community involved.”

Confirmed drop box locations so far will be

  • C. Wimberley Inc., 57333 M-51, Dowagiac
  • Tractor Supply, 56418 Pokagon St., Dowagiac
  • Family Fare, 56151 M-51, Dowagiac
  • Fit Stop Dowagiac, 201 S. Front St., Dowagiac
  • Ausra Equipment, 30155 Yaw St., Dowagiac
  • L.A.D.D. Inc., 300 Whitney St., Dowagiac
  • True’s Towing, 725 N Front St., Dowagiac
  • Dollar General, 104 Park Place, Dowagiac;
  • The Strand Brewery, 93415 County Road 690, Dowagiac
  • Sister Lakes Brewery, 92500 County Road 690, Dowagiac
  • TJ’s Sports Bar, 195 M-140, Watervliet
  • Hale’s True Value Hardware, 56216 M 51 S, Dowagiac
  • Dockside Dan’s, 94376 County Road 690, Dowagiac
  • Dowagiac City Hall, 241 S Front St., Dowagiac
  • Dowagiac High School, 701 W Prairie Ronde St.
  • Barry’s Automotive, 29034 M 62 W, Dowagiac
  • Cranky Hank’s 24992 Marcellus Hwy., Dowagiac
  • Honor Credit Union, 56337 M-51 S, Dowagiac.

Any additional businesses interested in a dropbox, contact the Dowagiac Fire Department at (269) 782-9563.