Video: Snow Doesn't Keep People Away From Toys for Tots Tent in Golden Valley
The Toys for Tots tent outside of KARE 11 opened for the season Friday, Dec. 3. And people still made their way to Golden Valley to drop off toys.
The plows were out, the snow was falling and traffic was moving at a snail's pace Friday afternoon.
"Absolutely, it took me an hour [to get to Golden Valley] from downtown Minneapolis," said Paul Carlson of Victoria.
But the snow didn't prevent him from making his way to the Toys for Tots tent at KARE 11 to help kick off an annual tradition of charity and goodwill.
"Last year we had roughly 600,000 toys distributed to about 300,000 families," said Sgt. Kurt Chmielewski of the U.S. Marine Corps, the group that runs Toys for Tots.
For 27 years, Toys for Tots has set up a tent outside of the KARE 11 studios at the corner of Olson Memorial Highway and General Mills Blvd. during the Christmas season.
"We're very happy to present five [Nintendo] Wii consoles, the game consoles, for some of the older children that are going to be without toys this season," Carlson said.
During a 16-day time span, countless others will come to Golden Valley to perform similar acts of kindness and donate new, unwrapped toys.
"Here in Minnesota, we've worked with KARE 11 for many years," said Sgt. Chmielewski. "And I think it's just become a trademark now. We're centrally located here."
Yes, certain groups will get to be on TV and meet one of the station's on-air personalities, but for people such as Joel Scalzo of Plymouth, dropping toys off at the tent in Golden Valley is about much more.
"We look forward to it as kind of our annual event," Scalzo said. "Do whatever we can to help."
Yet, the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves said they could use some help of their own.
"We're looking for a few volunteers, some in the evenings, especially the weekends," said Sgt. Luke Schleif.
The tent will stay up through Dec. 19, and based on past experiences, the Marines know the toys will come in faster than they can handle.
"The drop-off line turns into a drive-through window," Schleif said. "It's back up a couple blocks."
Not surprising, Marines say, considering the dozens who made their way to Golden Valley through a winter wonderland Friday afternoon just to spread a little Christmas cheer for the tent's 2010 grand opening.
Marines call it "Minnesota Nice."