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Heart 2 Heart time

Volunteers busy sorting toys and other gifts for distribution into community

Photo by Karin Elton Plushies, games, pillows and dolls are among the many items waiting to wrapped up for area youngsters during the annual Heart to Heart event in Marshall.

The sound of strapping tape being pulled could be heard mixed in with Bruce Springsteen singing “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” at the Marshall National Guard Armory Monday morning.

It’s the Heart to Heart time of year.

A group of volunteers were assembling boxes and others were unloading shopping carts full of toys. Holy Redeemer School teachers, parents and students as well as First Lutheran Church members and students helped other community members unload and sort toys and other gift items.

They all came together to provide presents “for people that don’t get Christmas presents every year,” said Maddi Panka, a Holy Redeemer fifth-grader.

Lyon County Heart to Heart is a community organization that donates gifts and food to needy families during the holiday season. It was founded in 1985 by Brad Strootman. The charity’s board members are — Strootman, Ben Alcorn, Holly Jo Boerboom, JoAnn Chaplin, Gretchen Flynn, Cecil Naatz, Brandy Rickets, Denise Schneekloff, Jane Sovell and Amanda Tywinski. Naatz and Chaplin are charter members, along with Strootman. The charity is supported by Lyon County residents and business partners.

A canceled school day Monday led to a few extra volunteers at the Marshall National Guard Armory. The volunteers for the Lyon County Heart to Heart usually are comprised of adults and students eighth-grade and higher, but grade-schoolers helped out as well on Monday.

Lyon County Heart to Heart is having another successful year, said board member Alcorn.

“We have our consistent donors that always come through for us and we have a couple new businesses that offered to help,” said Alcorn.

Alcorn said Viking Coca-Cola Bottling Co. provides “soda all week” and Bagels & Brew comes in with an urn of coffee. Monday’s brew was organic Peruvian.

Alcorn said the frigid temperatures during the first part of the week hasn’t slowed them down.

“We weren’t interrupted by the bad weather,” he said. “Everyone has been pretty awesome.”

Monday’s activities included hauling items from a rented storage unit.

“We store gifts that we get through the year and also shopping carts, some of our wrapping supplies — things that can survive the Minnesota weather,” said Alcorn. “Every year Cecil Naatz organizes his group to unload everything.”

Once the shopping carts full of unwrapped gifts get to the Armory, other volunteers take over. They sort the toys — putting some on a girls’ table and some on a boys’ table. They will be further sorted by age.

“It’s fun,” said Delaney Dieken, a Holy Redeemer sixth-grader. Dieken was at the Armory with her parents, Melissa and Shawn Dieken, and brother Hudson Dieken, an eighth-grader and sister Brynlee Dieken.

Brynlee Dieken and Willow Langseth, Holy Redeemer third-graders, carried toys to the tables.

“It’s really fun,” said Dieken.

They saw a lot of good stuff that they would like to have for themselves such as a My Life as a scientist doll.

Distribution is today. Families that have registered earlier in the month come in to the Armory and volunteers help bring the box full of grocery items and presents to their cars.

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