Each year, more than 200 families and more than 500 children receive gifts through the program.

This is the fifth year that Tanja and John Zentz have coordinated the proram along with help from other family members.

“I just celebrated my 89th birthday, so I’m not able to do as much as I used to,” John said.

Churches and individuals to sponsor families are needed, along with gifts for tiny tots through teenagers.

“I talk to a lot of people, and today’s families are well fed because you can get food from many different places, but any extras are not happening in many families now,” he said. “These presents will be appreciated a great deal this year, I think.

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“We love doing this program. It’s something we really enjoy. Seeing people’s faces when they get things for their children, which is vastly important to them. And to realize how unselfish people are who give the gifts to bring joy to others is very rewarding.”

John said there are also miracle stories every year. “I think the Lord has a lot to do with those things,” he said. “One woman wanted bicycles for three children who had never had one. And believe it or not, we got a telephone call from someone wanting to donate three new bicycles. To see that lady’s face when she got those bicycles, she started crying and so did we.”

Donations needed

Toys for Girls and Boys and Tiny Tots needs donations of toys and gift cards. As in past years, plans are to have toy drop boxes at Coborn’s, Hugo’s, Walgreens, Ace Hardware, Jake's Barbershop, Walmart and the radio station in Park Rapids. The Park Rapids Enterprise is unable to be a drop-off location this year due to remodeling its new office.

Area families or businesses who want to adopt a family for Christmas and purchase gifts from their wish list should text or call Tanja at 218-255-6056.

There will be a drop off of bags of unwrapped gifts at Abide Vineyard Church on Hwy. 34 in Park Rapids. Gifts can be ordered online and delivered to Toys for Girls and Boys, 16095 Garnet Drive, Park Rapids, MN 56470.

Another way to help is to buy a gift card from a store or restaurant, put it in an envelope labeled Toys for Girls and Boys and drop it off at TruStar Federal Credit Union in Nevis or Park Rapids. Cash donations will also be accepted at TruStar.

Toy distribution will be in mid-December.

For information about volunteering to pick up, sort and bag toys, email tanjaz27@icloud.com.