Edit ModuleShow Tags

'Tis the Season to Support Toys for Tots


When I was in college, I worked one summer as a server at the Minnesota State Fair and became friends with Lee, a single mom who had two kids to support at home.

Despite the fact that we led very different lives, we instantly hit it off. I loved working my 5 a.m. to 1 p.m. shift with her, we teased one another, we joked around, we laughed so hard we sometimes cried. She was real and uncensored and wise to the world; I was a naïve college kid. I think she liked living vicariously through my college stories as much as I liked getting a glimpse into her world as a (very hardworking) young mom.

After one shift, we somehow got onto the subject of Christmas. I can’t remember how or why the holiday came up, but I’m sure I mentioned family traditions and maybe even joked about how hard it was to buy gifts for my picky boyfriend. I couldn’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t love the holiday.

Lee quietly told me that she hadn’t been able to afford gifts for her kids last year, and was working this second job (in August!) to put away some Christmas money. It was her goal, she said, to also pay it forward to another family in need.

She was barely scraping by last year, she said, and the organization Toys for Tots gave her “hope and dignity” during a really rough time in her life, allowing her children to have the kind of Christmas she would never have been able to provide on her own—one with gifts from Santa.

Lee and I lost touch, but that conversation stayed with me. I think about her every summer when I go to the State Fair, and every winter when the Toys for Tots drive revs up again.

You can make a donation to Toys for Tots at a drop-off site near you (sorted by zip code), by bringing a new, unwrapped toy to Cowboy Jack’s for a free ticket to the Minneapolis Ugly Sweater Pub Crawl this Saturday, December 21 from 6:30 to 11 p.m., or at the Running Aces Toys for Tots Poker Tournament December 21 at 4 p.m., with $20 of every buy-in—and 100 percent of every add-on—going to the toy drive.  You can also make a donation online, donate by mail, donate in memory or honor, donate a vehicle, or donate via ebay.

There’s still time to donate. Make it a Christmas to remember for a family in need.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

About This Blog

Whether you are a seasoned Twin Cities traveler or planning your first trip to Minnesota, this blog will introduce you to many new adventures to add to your itinerary. From day trips and scenic discoveries to luxurious girls weekends, travel tips, and insider scoops, our editors will give you all the information you need to enjoy your stay Up North.

Learn about the contributing writers.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Travel Blog

Sue Z.'s Charitable Check-In: March

Sue Z. picks Cochon555 as her philanthropic food event this month

5 Must-See Minnesota Public Gardens

Visiting these botanical wonders are sure to make your daisy

How Jason Voorhees Came to Haunt an Iron Range Mine

The "Friday the 13th" icon, in the depths of a northern MN mine, goes viral—but what else is lurking down there?

A Day Trip to St. Peter

Located in the Minnesota River Valley, St. Peter is full of Minnesota history and small-town charm

5 Unusual Minnesota Attractions

We all love Mall of America and Minnehaha Falls, but these five out-of-the-ordinary state attractions provide relief from the norm

St. Patrick's Day Festivities

Check out these exciting St. Patrick's Day events happening all around Minnesota.

The Best Road-Trip Pies in Greater MN (and WI)

Celebrate Pie Day at any of these statewide destinations

Minnesotans Medal in PyeongChang Olympics

Minnesota native athletes bring home Olympics medals in the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

St. Patrick's Day Suds

These Minneapolis and St. Paul pubs are the perfect spots to ring in the Irish holiday all month long

A Day Trip to New Ulm

Schell's Bock Fest, Minnesota history, and tasty food await in this southwest Minnesota town

Top 5 Places to Dog Sled in Minnesota

Try the exhilarating experience of dog sledding and take in the beauty of winter in Minnesota.

This Weekend: What Is Snowkiting?

At Lake Mille Lacs, a new sport catches wind. Here's how you can get started.

Twin Cities Sledding Hills

Grip it and rip it, it's time to shred some powder

Sue Z.'s Charitable Check-In: February

This month's philanthropic food events: a "Chopped"-style competition, the Charlie Awards, and cocktails with your dog
Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags