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Oelwein resident Hanna Boleyn has once again initiated a holiday toy drive to help provide a fun new gift for any child, from birth to age 16, in the community that is in need.

Some may say that toys aren’t necessary and there are other more important needs for some families than playthings. But no one will ever convince Hanna that toys are not a part of Christmas for a child.

“Christmas growing up was always one of my favorite times of year, and as I grew older, I quickly began to realize that for many others in the world, this may not always be the case. The time of year that I associate with love, magic, and overall joy was a time that some may associate with things quite the opposite,” Hanna said. The thought that kids and families couldn’t find joy at this time of year, always left Hanna wanting to help change the narrative of Christmas for those that may struggle.

“After a year of watching the world go through trials many of us thought we would never see, I started the toy drive last year (2020),” she said. “I decided to use my resources and give back to my community.”

The news of Hanna’s toy drive reached the Daily Register, and spread quickly with an outpouring of support.

“I never expected the outcome we received!” she said. “So many community members reached out to help me, and together we donated 368 toys to those in need.”

With that kind of support, Hanna was more than ready to launch Oelwein Toy Drive 2021, which is currently underway. Large boxes wrapped in bright red paper can be found in the Oelwein Police Department lobby, the Williams Wellness Center lobby, and at Lumber Ridge Home Source on Highway 150 South across from Arnold Motor. Toys can be dropped off at any one of the three bins. Only new toys are accepted for health and safety reasons, appropriate for kids from birth to age 16, and should be left unwrapped.

Hanna said in order to get donations rounded up and delivered before Christmas, the toy drive ends at noon on Wednesday, Dec. 15. The toys are going to the Northeast Iowa Community Action Corp. (NEICAC) office in Oelwein, where they will be distributed to Oelwein area families that have a need this holiday season. If anyone is in need of help at this time of year, contact NEICAC at 319-283-2510.

“Last year was amazing to see, and an experience I am so grateful to be able to continue this year!” Hanna said. “Every time I pick up a toy that has been donated, it brings me so much happiness to know that this toy may make a difference in a child or family’s life.

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