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Toys for Tots has successful first season in Hill County


January 3, 2019

With the end of the holiday season, Toys for Tots was able to provide a number of Havre families in need with Christmas presents.

Edward Jones Financial Advisor Jennifer Tilleman said she wanted to bring the Toys for Tots program to Havre after finding out that the Jaycees were stepping away from their Community Toy Chest.

She said Edward Jones has had a long relationship with the Toys for Tots program. Tilleman also volunteered to transport the donated toys to Great Falls to be sorted, then back to Havre to be distributed to the families.

“I’m quite pleased with how the first year turned out,” Tilleman said.

She added that Old Station Brewing Co. volunteering to act as a drop-off location for toys was helpful because their later business hours allowed more time for drop-offs.

Steve Neiffer, owner of the brewery, said he wanted to get involved with Toys for Tots after reading about Tilleman’s efforts, adding that it was the least he could do to help her.

Tilleman said Triple Dog Brewing Co. also helped. The brewery hosted a photo shoot in conjunction with Helmbrecht Photography where people could go to Triple Dog and have a holiday photo taken by Steve Helmbrecht with proceeds going to Toys for Tots. The function raised about $650 for the program.

“Those proceeds helped cover the cost for toys that we needed for specific age groups,” Tilleman said.

Tilleman said that they were able to provide toys for 32 children this year, and that, between the two drop-off locations, a total of 106 gifts were donated.

She said she wants to make Toys for Tots an annual event in Havre and hopes to expand the program every year.

“Currently, I transport the toys to Great Falls and assist with documentation, sorting, labeling and then return to Havre for deliveries,” Tilleman said. “My SUV was full to the brim this year. My daughter and I chuckled as we struggled to find room for her on the way home.”

She said next year she plans to take her pickup truck and an enclosed trailer to transport the gifts.

“It would be lovely to expand so that Havre could be a distribution point,” she said.

Tilleman said that would take some time because coordinators must go through significant training, traveling and due diligence before that could be implemented.

“It’s my intention to continue organizing and supporting the program locally to ensure it remains a fixture on the Hi-Line during the holidays,” she said.

She said she is already hearing about other organizations and businesses that want to be involved next year, although they are still working through the details of who is helping and how.

“Too many cooks in the kitchen can create more work than necessary,” Tilleman said. “So, we’re working to streamline the process to make it as efficient as possible from start to finish.”

If anyone has any questions or would like to get involved, Tilleman said they can contact her at 265-5455.


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