Volunteers from Dodge County, Kasson Police Department staff and Dodge County Sheriff’s Department staff sorted and delivered toys to the Salvation Army in Rochester and to the children’s hospital at St. Marys. Photo submitted
By Tara Lindquist
The Kasson Police Department and Dodge County Sheriff's Department collected toys, for Toys for Tots in honor of their friend and colleague the late Captain Loring Guenther on, December 19. The annual Toys for Tots drive was one of Guenther's favorite charities. He spent many hours volunteering his time to help sort and deliver toys with Toys for Tots warehouse managers Kevin and Becky Lubahn.
"He was a big kid," Kevin Lubahn said. "He started helping us years ago when we started and was instrumental in getting the sheriff's department involved with the Toys for Tots drive." Kevin said Loring and his wife Debonie spent a lot of time and energy sorting and delivering toys to ensure that kids had a good Christmas.
Kevin was unsure how many toys were collected in Guenther's honor but he said the day definitely gave the toy drive a really good push. "We definitely noticed an increase in the amount of toys that were donated that day," he said.
Last Thursday evening volunteers from Dodge County, Kasson Police Department staff and Dodge County Sheriff's Department staff sorted and delivered toys to the Salvation Army in Rochester and to the children's hospital at St. Marys.
"This program was one of Loring Guenther's favorite charities so my wife Rosie and I felt even more of an obligation to help this year. It was great to see the number of Dodge County deputies and Kasson police officers, along with their families who all the took time to help last week and this week," commented first year volunteer Investigator Scott Rose. "To have a small part in helping some less fortunate kids in our area have a brighter Christmas is a great feeling, especially being able to deliver a trailer full of toys to the kids at the Children's Hospital at St Marys. I think that was the highlight for Rosie and I."
Kevin and Becky started volunteering with Toys for Tots six years ago to help their friend, Todd Agler who was in charge of the Toys for Tots drive at the time. "Once we started we got our friends and our kids involved," Kevin said.
"It's been great to have our friends and family come and help us and volunteer their time," Becky explained. "We couldn't do all of this without all the help of all the volunteers," Kevin said.
The Lubahn's are in charge of the Toys for Tots warehouse in Rochester. It is their responsibility to recruit volunteers to sort and deliver toys.
"When you walk into the warehouse after a toy drop, it is wall to wall toys," Kevin said. The volunteers then sort the toys into age groups, and then they get the lists of towns and their needs and sort the toys down from there.
Kevin said he cannot emphasize enough how much the donations and volunteers are appreciated. "They make it a lot easier and they put in so many hours helping."
For Kevin and Becky, they have no idea how many hours they spent working on the toy drive since they took over managing the warehouse and they said it doesn't matter.
"It's not about the time we put in," Kevin said. "It's so much more than that, it's about walking into St. Marys and seeing what those kids are facing and knowing that they'll have a little better Christmas." Once the volunteers dropped off the toys at St. Marys the nursing staff got to work wrapping the presents. "They help so much," he explained.
"Kevin and Becky Lubahn and their family from L&L Streetrods are instrumental every year in helping organize this (the Toys for Tots volunteers) in our area along with the US Marine Corp, these are awesome people," Rose commented. "The night was a great showing of teamwork by Dodge County."
Toy drops were also done in every town in Dodge County this year. "This is the first time for Kasson being involved in Toys for Tots," Kevin explained.
When Kevin and Becky started with the toy drive he said there was Dodge County participation but not at the level it is at now. "Vince Reynolds has done a great job at getting the local Fire Departments involved," he explained.
"It's just a great collaboration between so many volunteers and donators and it's great to be able to help give kids a better Christmas, I can't think of a better way to spend my time."