Toy Time, Toys For Tots rev up for another season

By Dan Spalding
News Now Warsaw

WARSAW — Kosciusko County has two high-profile Christmas toy collection efforts and the organizers behind both are being profiled this week on In the Know, the public affairs show that can be heard this weekend. on Kensington Media radio stations.

The people behind the efforts are Ami Pitt, who leads the annual Toy Time program, and Chris Cage, the voice of Willie 103.5 who heads up the annual Toys for Tots.

Pitt is in her 30th year of running Toy Time, which she established 30 years ago this month shortly after she ventured into the Combined Community Services office back when it was still on Market Street.

At the time, she was pregnant with her third child and got involved with with a program called Project Independence, which eventually helped send her to college (She’s now the director of that program).

One of her first tasks involved establishing a new toy program for CCS.

The first year, she said, involved supporting some 37 families but blossomed significantly over the years.

“Our end goal is to cover about 1,700 Kosciusko County children with Christmas gifts,” Pitt said. “Our main goal is we want to give them Jesus — and toys. What better package can you have than that? Jesus and Toys.”

In addition to a complex toy collection program, they also seek donations of Bibles that are also distributed to many of the families.

Toy Time happens over the course of ten days in December at the Kosciusko County Fairgrounds. 

The first step is a the drop off of children’s items (Dec. 11-14) followed by a consignment sale on Dec. 15. That’s followed by a huge toy sale on Dec. 16, which generates money for the purchase of new toys that are distributed at the New Toy Giveaway on Dec. 19.

Meanwhile, Cage has been involved with Toys for Tots for for some 16 years as a result of his involvement in toy collection effort through Willie 103.5. He began overseeing the entire program in Kosciusko and Marshall Counties two years ago after David Morales stepped aside after some 20 year.

The toy collection effort involves two big projects.

WNDU will host its annual toy drive at 7 a.m. on Dec. 2 at Martin’s Supermarket in Warsaw. Donations will be taken until 11 a.m.

The second is the toy drive by Willie 103. that runs from Dec. 4-8 with a live remote at the Meijer store in Warsaw from 6 a.m. to 6 p. m. each day.

The station is seeking both donated toys and monetary donations.

Toy Collections will be taken until Dec. 9th at any of the drop-off sites across the community.

Both Pitts and Cage said they are seeing signs that the need for support the toy programs appears to be greater than recent years due to the economy. 

As of Wednesday, about 180 families had signed up, Cage said.

“We know there’s a need in the community and we need to step up and the community always does,” Cage said.

* * * 

To learn more about Toy Time, check out the website.

To learn more about Toys For Tots, check out their website