Toys for Tots hosts 'Christmas in July' event in Owatonna - Owatonna MN: News

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Toys for Tots hosts 'Christmas in July' event in Owatonna

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Posted: Friday, July 26, 2013 4:00 pm | Updated: 6:55 pm, Fri Jul 26, 2013.

OWATONNA — Though Christmas is still nearly five months away, that isn’t stopping one area organization from trying to make sure that every child in Steele County will have something to open on Dec. 25.

The U.S. Marine Corp Reserve Toys for Tots program hosted a new event, dubbed “Christmas in July,” at Spare Time Entertainment in Owatonna on Thursday night. The event included a silent auction, a raffle and discounted bowling for those who brought in a toy for Toys for Tots.

Event organizer Heidi Reuter said the goal of the event was to try to make sure each child has a bright Christmas.

“This is the first ‘Christmas in July.’ I did the Toys for Tots benefit last year, and we did just under $1,000,” Reuter said. “My idea was to do a benefit to try and generate funds from a different population. Some said to me, ‘Why don’t you do a Christmas in July?’ and I thought that was a great idea.”

Reuter said the group reached out to the bowling alley to incorporate a family aspect into the event.

“Bowling is just a great idea to do that,” Reuter said.

In 2012, Toys for Tots assisted 632 families across Steele County. Jerry Shore, coordinator for Toys for Tots in Steele County, said every event that helps provide children with a better Christmas is beneficial.

“We gave kids to 1,635 kids last year. Each of them gets two gifts — one from Santa and one from Mom and Dad,” Shore said.

All of the silent auction items were donated from businesses within town, Reuter said. For her, every bit of money raised during the event was worth it.

“In my mind, if I help even one child have a brighter Christmas, then it’s worth it. That’s what my goal is and what my main purpose is,” Reuter said.

For those who weren’t able to make it to the event on Thursday night, volunteers urge residents to still support Toys for Tots. The organization takes financial or toy donations year-round.

Anyone interested in giving can contact Shore at his business 2423 Highway 14 West in Owatonna.

Reach reporter Al Strain at 444-2376 or follow him on

© 2015 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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