Now that’s spirit! |

Now that’s spirit!

Contributed photoSanta visits with a youngster at the Toys for Tots party Saturday at the Basalt Community United Methodist Church.

BASALT ” The tots ended up with lots of toys.

Roaring Fork Valley residents rallied to make the Toys for Tots program a big success, according to Rev. Marie Gasau of the Basalt Community United Methodist Church. Gasau and other organizers put out an SOS last week because demand was so high and contributions of cash and toys were so low in the Roaring Fork Valley.

“The valley pulled through like I’ve never seen before,” said Scott Forsythe, a volunteer who helps Gasau with the program. Toys started rolling in Thursday and came in bunches on Friday at collection points throughout the valley. At the Alpine Bank in Aspen, for example, Forsythe’s crews had to collect toys that had been donated on Friday morning, then return at noon.

“I’ve never seen so many toys,” Gasau said.

She likened the response to the “fishes and loaves” story from the Bible where Jesus blessed two fishes and five loaves of barely bread and ended up miraculously feeding a large crowd.

“Over and over again I had people call to say what can I do to help,” Gasau said.

“People were saying ‘we know it’s tough economic times. We’ve got enough. We want to help.'”

One couple contributed more than $2,000 worth of new toys. Other people donated cash or volunteered their time for the gift giving on Saturday.

Toys for Tots is a program established by the U.S. Marine Corp. and administered by religious and civic organizations in towns and cities across the country. In the Roaring Fork Valley, families receiving aid through the Eagle County social services department are eligible for Toys for Tots. The Methodist Church hosts a party. While the kids are occupied by Santa Claus, the parents are able to select a gift for their kids, take it home and present it on Christmas.

Demand soared this year. Gasau said it was a broad mixture of families that needed help, from single moms struggling to make ends meet to families that recently had the main breadwinner lose a job. The program provided toys for 241 kids and brightened Christmas for 93 families, she said.

Gasau and Forsythe said they couldn’t personally thank everyone who helped, but they want them to know their kindness did a world of good.

“This is how we make it through tough times ” by those who have sharing with those that don’t,” Gasau said.

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