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Sunday, January 21, 2018

photo courtesy of Dawn Guenzi

Despite loss of Kmart, Toy run hits new highs

By Jason Stuart

Ranger-Review Staff Writer

Despite the recent loss of Glendive’s largest retail outlet and toy supplier in Kmart, the 22nd annual ABATE Toy Run proved to be the most successful to date, with local retailers stepping up to fill the gaps left by Kmart’s departure and setting a new record for cash donations.

While checking out a bevy of toys from Runnings on Saturday during the Toy Run, Lower Yellowstone ABATE Chapter president Dawn Guenzi noted that the loss of Kmart — traditionally the source of the majority of the toys for the Toy Run — did make finding toys this year somewhat more difficult, but she praised Glendive’s local retailers for doing their part to help fill the void.

“It is more challenging (without Kmart), but the local businesses have helped us to make it work,” Guenzi said.

She noted that several local retailers — including Runnings, Albertsons and Tractor Supply — significantly increased the number of toys they carry as the holidays approached to help make up for the loss of Kmart. Guenzi specifically singled out Ranch and Farm for praise, noting that the store let her come in and “order what I wanted” from a toy catalog so they could accommodate the Toy Run.

This year’s Toy Run also received an assist from the local Court Appointed Special Advocate’s (CASA) office. Eastern Montana CASA volunteer Cheryl Eichelberger said the local office received a pallet of toys from the national CASA organization. Since the Toy Run toys go to children from the area who are in need, are from broken homes or are in foster care — many of the same children that CASA advocates represent in court — Eichelberger said donating that pallet of toys they received to ABATE made perfect sense.

“We’re very happy to let them take that pallet of toys. They’re a good group of people,” Eichelberger said.

Guenzi added that like always, ABATE has strived to keep all their Toy Run purchases in town, even with the loss of Kmart.

“We’ve tried to keep the money local,” she said.

The group mostly succeeded in that endeavor, she noted, except where they simply could not. Guenzi said they ultimately spent about $1,000 of their money out of town this year, primarily on the kinds of popular, name brand toys — like Barbie, Star Wars, etc. — that cannot be found locally anymore with Kmart gone.

This year’s Toy Run garnered $13,700 in donations, Guenzi noted, setting a new record high for the event. She said she did not expect that going into this year’s event, again praising local residents and businesses for making this year’s Toy Run a spectacular success despite the challenges they faced.

“I didn’t think we’d do it but we beat last year’s record again,” Guenzi said. “It’s awesome. It’s just awesome.”

 

Reach Jason Stuart at rrreporter@rangerreview.com.

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