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Demand high for giving program

Donations have been down in the past couple of years, but the number of families who need assistance through Farmington's Toys for Town program is on the rise.

Last year, Farmington's annual gift drive helped about 250 kids from just fewer than 100 families. This year seems to be on pace to meet, or even exceed that number. By Nov. 17, this year's list already included 28 families.

"It's not a slower pace of names coming in, but a difference in the number of toys that are coming in," said Marjorie Boese, one of this year's Toys for Town coordinators. "There's not a huge increase in the number of kids on the list, just a slower contribution of toys."

And of financial contributions. The economy seems to be hitting everyone hard these days, and last year's contributions were lower than in years past. Unless a few more financial contributions come in over the next few weeks, this year's toy drive is going to be very lean.

As a member of the Farmington Police Department's support staff, Boese has worked through a few Toys for Town drives. She and her coworkers have a pretty good system down, but they're trying a few things differently this year. For starters, they've got more donation boxes out around the community.

Farmington police chief Brian Lindquist has been the figurehead of the event since its founder, former police chief Dan Siebenaler, retired a few years ago. Lindquist has been in FBI training since September, so Sgt. Jim Murphy has assumed the role of acting chief. Murphy will attend a pep rally at Farmington High School in December to and receive the presents and contributions from the FHS student body.

Lindquist will be back just in time for the holidays, Boese said. Lindquist works with the high school's Tiger Leadership Club to go shopping two nights before the wrapping and distribution, and he'll be around to set up the tables the night before.

This year, the wrapping and distribution will be held Dec. 18 at Boeckman Middle School. The event was moved out to Farmington High School last year, but there are several other activities planned out there that day.

"We've had really good luck over at Boeckman in the past. I'm really excited to have it there again. I think it will work out well," Boese said.

Families who need of a little holiday assistance can get on the Toys for Town list if they contact the Farmington Police Department by Thursday, Dec. 16. After that, Boese said, the names will be forwarded to the Salvation Army. Families call the police department at 651-280-6700.

Though there is a need for toys and financial donations, there are other things that are needed this year, as well. Tape, wrapping paper, gift name tags and batteries are needed. There's usually a shortage of scissors, too, so everyone who comes to help wrap and distribute gifts is encouraged to bring a pair along.

Where to give

There are a number of donation spots for this year's Toys for Town drive: Anchor Bank, Boeckman Middle School, Castle Rock Bank, Farmington City Hall, CVS Pharmacy, Dodge Middle School, EconoFoods, Farmington Food Shelf, Farmington Lanes, Farmington High School, Dakota County Library in Farmington, Pilot Knob Pizzeria, Farmington Police Department, Rising Stars, Roundbank, Tan Ambitions.

Financial contributions can be accepted at the Farmington Police Department.

Wrapping and distribution will begin at 9 a.m. Dec. 18 at Boeckman Middle School.

For information or to add a family to this year's list, call the FPD at 651-280-6700.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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