Dodge County Sheriff Jim Jensen, Hayfield Fire Fighter and Marine Vince Reynolds and Gilmore, Commandant of the Thor Detachment of the Marine Corps League in Rochester celebrate a successful day collecting Toys for Tots on Saturday. Sheriff Jensen is holding the tazer he took "for the team" (...or "Tots") after 100 toys were donated by 2 p.m. Reynolds spearheaded the county-wide fire department toy drive. Marine Gilmore also got tazed for the collection of 50 toys.
By Tara Lindquist
All five fire departments in Dodge County were at local businesses on Saturday, December 8, collecting money and toys for Toys for Tots in Dodge County.
"We've always done a toy drive," explained Hayfield Fire Chief Paul O'Brien. "But we've never gotten the chance to do it for Toys for Tots." That changed this year when Vince Reynolds, who is a member of the Hayfield Fire Department began to take over the Toys for Tots drive for southeastern Minnesota. "We decided it would be good to get all the area fire departments to be involved."
The fire departments will be going to Rochester together on Sunday, December 16 to purchase toys with the money they collected last Saturday. "We'll be taking a fire truck from each town and go traveling together to Shopko north in Rochester to buy toys," O'Brien explained.
The toys will be distributed on Saturday, December 22, at the Hayfield Fire Hall. Anyone who is unable to buy gifts for their children this holiday season is welcome to come and "shop" for their family. Participants will not be asked their names, financial information and are not required to sign up in advance. The only questions that will be asked is what town a participant is from and how many kids live in the household. "No one will be turned away," O'Brien added. "We truly want to help those in need this holiday season."
Hayfield Fire Department has done a toy distribution in the past but no other department in Dodge County has. "The other towns as far as I understand it rely on the Christmas Anonymous programs," he said. "This will be great for the whole county and it's nice to work with other departments."
The fire departments were not the only ones helping out with Toys for Tots last Saturday. The Dodge County Sheriff's Department was collecting toys at the Toys for Tots Drive-by in Rochester on Saturday. Sheriff Jim Jensen made a deal he's not soon to forget. If there were 100 toys donated by 2 pm he would allow a fellow deputy to taze him. By 2 pm, there was over 100 toys donated and Sheriff Jensen made good on his end of the deal.