METHUEN — The latest Methuen Exchange Club meeting wasn’t its usual gathering — it was the night members donated $500 worth of gifts to Toys for Tots.
“We get all of our toys from Dave Sheafer of Salisbury Discount House,” Ken Willette said at the Dec. 7 get-together held at the Sweatheart Inn. “He always provides great discounts to us. So, the $500 goes a lot further.”
The group has been donating to Toys for Tots for the past 18 years by using some of the proceeds from the annual Taste of Methuen event and miniature golf tournament held at Jay Gee’s.
“The golf tournament raised $3,000,” said Arthur Hutton, who picks up the toys from the Salisbury Beach store. “And 165 kids from St. Anne’s Home were able to golf for free.”
Staff Sgt. Dan Cotnoir, recently retired from the Marine Corps, was on hand to pick up the toys and bring them to the warehouse.
“I truly enjoy doing Toys for Tots functions,” Cotnoir said. “The program runs nationwide and we help one million families a year. All the toys raised in the Merrimack Valley stay in the Merrimack Valley.”
With a New England Patriots championship football as one of the toys, members of the Exchange Club joked it was a good thing the toys were staying in the area.
Some of the other 116 toys donated included Hook-a-Rug, dolls, sticker, rhinestone and other crafts.
Stating that New England is not exactly the cheapest place to live, Cotnoir thanked the Exchange Club for their generosity throughout the years.
“It’s a true testament to the area we live in,” Cotnoir said. “How much you give is truly heart touching.”
Cotnoir explained Toys for Tots is a family event for him. His wife Kate and their two daughters, Ashley, 12, and Morgan, 7, all box up the toys to be delivered throughout the Merrimack Valley.