Annual Toy Drive Continues Helping Children

A mix of Ford City Lions Club members and Armstrong Junior/Senior High Leo Club students proudly hold some of the dozens of toys donated last night as part of the annual Joe Alese Toy Drive. Also in support of the effort was (front row, left) Past District Governor Tom Toland, Alese's daughter, Carla and District Governor Linda Gibala (both front row, right).

A mix of Ford City Lions Club members and Armstrong Junior/Senior High Leo Club students proudly hold some of the dozens of toys donated last night as part of the annual Joe Alese Toy Drive. Also in support of the effort was (front row, left) Past District Governor Tom Toland, Alese’s daughter, Carla and District Governor Linda Gibala (both front row, right).

by Jonathan Weaver

Hundreds of less-fortunate children could receive Christmas gifts again this year thanks to the Ford City Lions Club and the Armstrong Junior/Senior High Leo Club.

Co-Advisor Erin Burkett said students had been collected toys for two weeks before the donations were taken to the Kittanning Salvation Army’s toy shed yesterday morning.

“The last count we had was about 120 (toys), but they just kept bringing them in,” Burkett said. “Keeping them in my room, we couldn’t even keep up with how much.

“We were surprised, because we’ve had our (students) doing so much and donating so much. But, our community never disappoints,” Burkett added. “Our Leo’s are great and they really stepped it up.”

LEO Club President Katie Pyle contributed to the collection by donating Pillow Pets – including a pet that will project onto the ceiling for a lucky child.

Vice-President Abby Trithart and her two junior/senior high school siblings – 10th grader Hannah and eighth-grader Matthew – all brought in toys for those in need.

“Matt brought in a truck, I brought in little army men and I think Hannah brought in dolls,” Trithart said. “Just saw (the army men) on the shelf – thought they looked cool.”

Leo Club Treasurer Emily Hopper, a sophomore from Kittanning, estimated the toys donated collectively are worth up to about $1,000.

“There are some really nice toys, and we got a lot,” Hopper said. “We’re proud of everyone who brought in toys to help us.”

Lions Club King Lion Brad Baillie was similarly-proud.

“What they did was up-and-beyond the call of duty. And you just can’t ask for anything more,” Baillie said. “And if you do ask for anything more, you’re greedy.

“Showing your heart, giving to those that don’t have – that’s what it’s all about.”

A way Baillie and his fellow Lions did thank the Leo Club was by presenting them with their first school club banner.

“They deserved it – those kids work very hard for what they do,” Baillie added.

About 185 students in grades seven through 12 are part of the Leo Club – which is sponsored by the Ford City Lions.

Salvation Army Lieutenant Amber Imhoff said more than 800 children are currently registered to receive toys as part of next Wednesday’s distribution at the First United Methodist Church of Kittanning Covenant Center. She said gift tags for about 150 children are still on local business trees – with the most-popular item requested being training-wheel bicycles.