Chautauqua County Highway Association Collects Toys For Kids
LAKEWOOD — Christmas came early — as it has for the last 15 years in Lakewood.
Doug Peterson, founder and vice president of Southern Tier Supply, is a member of the Chautauqua County Highway Association and through his connections with the highway superintendents the annual Toys For Kids donation event has consistently delivered gifts to the Salvation Army shortly before the holidays.
Gathered together at the monthly Chautauqua County Town and Village Highway Association meeting, members take the December gathering to give back to the community.
“With this one, the way you get in is by bringing a $10 unwrapped gift for a little boy or little girl,” Peterson said of the meeting.
Inside the dining hall of the Lakewood Rod and Gun Club, an estimated 700 toys were organized on the ground with more members periodically adding to the pile in the morning. By midday, an official count revealed there to be 800 toys donated with $1,850 raised for the kettle drive.
“It’s pretty neat. It’s unique,” Peterson said of the event and its creation many years ago. “I knew there was a need for toys. I knew there was need for the kettle for help. We reached out to (the Salvation Army) and they were totally overjoyed.”
Peterson said the turnout and the stock of toys increased from last year.
Numerous superintendents and association members were in attendance. While the Toys for Kids event has been in operation for 15 years, the Salvation Army has been sending rerpesentation for the organization for the last six years. The Salvation Army majors John Merchant and Kimberly Merchant were present during the event Wednesday.
“(Toys for Kids is) such a blessing because this is crunch time where we have to make sure we have all of the gifts that we need,” Kimberly Merchant said, “and this random selection that these gentlemen and ladies provide is just a blessing right now to be able to make sure that we meet all of the needs in the community.”
Merchant said the fact that the event was even created in the first place showcased the association’s compassion for the community.