Siskiyou toy drive needs donations: 'I have faith' community will come through for kids

Bill Choy
Siskiyou Daily News
The Lake Shastina Fire Department was given two Toys for Tots boxes to fill this year.

Organizers say they are concerned Siskiyou County Toys for Tots is off to a slow start. 

Dawn Maidl, who coordinates the county's program with her husband, Ken, said donation boxes are mostly empty, and at a recent event, they received half the gifts they typically expect this time of year.

The toy drive, which helps brighten the holidays for children and their working families, began Nov. 1 and ends shortly before Christmas.  

Why giving is down

Dawn Maidl said a number of factors has charitable giving down. This includes a lack of inventory in stores, personal expenses rising and more people out of work caring for a loved one or child. 

"We have had rough years before, and I know this won't be the last, but I have faith that this community will come through for their children," Maidl said. 

Each year, bins are placed around the county at different locations from Yreka to McCloud for donors to drop off new, unwrapped toys. 

"Sadly, most boxes are still pretty empty, "Maidl said.  

They started their annual "Stuff-the-Truck" event last Friday in the Yreka Walmart parking lot. 

Ken Maidl is there every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from mid-November through the weekend before Christmas to accept toy donations from residents. This past weekend, Dawn Maidl said they collected about half of what they usually would. 

Toys for Tots is a program by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, which distributes toys to children whose parents cannot afford to buy them gifts for Christmas. The nationwide program was established in 1947. It arrived in Siskiyou County about 20 years ago as local Marine Corps League #936.

Dawn and Ken Maidl have been running the program since 2005. Previously, there was a "north county" and a "south county" Toys for Tots, but in 2020 it became one united campaign serving the entire county. 

Ken Maidl at the Siskiyou County Toys for Tots Stuff-the-Truck event at Walmart Supercenter in Yreka on Nov. 19.

About the need in Siskiyou County

That year, a total of 1,667 kids and 643 families received toys in Siskiyou County through the program, Dawn Maidl said.

"We hear from families every year about how thankful they are, and I hear the relief in parents' voices when I take their application," she said.

Maidl said over 26% of Siskiyou County children live below the federal poverty level.  

"The simple act of donating a toy can help reduce the stress on an over-burdened parent," she said.

A key component each year are the volunteers.

"We've had the most caring and compassionate volunteers over the years," Dawn Maidl said. 

The program also gets a hand in doing the deliveries from local fire departments and law enforcement agencies.

"Living in such a large county, we could not have accomplished this without them," she said. 

The Maidls hopes to have about 7,000-10,000 toys, books, balls and other gifts to give away three to five gifts per child.  

"I think many people see donating a toy as 'just a toy,' but it is so much more,"  Maidl said. "Our goal this year is simple, to have enough to meet the need. We don't want any child waking up without a shiny new toy under the tree."  

How donors, families can participate

Being married to a Marine, Maidl said they have lived in many places. To her, none are as close-knit as Siskiyou County.  

"This community never ceases to amaze me," she said. "The generosity we are witness to every Christmas is what keeps us running this program." 

Donations for Siskiyou County children can be made online at https://etna-ca.toysfortots.org. Click on "Way to donate local" and then "Donate Online." Make sure "Etna, CA" is the chosen campaign, Maidl said. 

Applications for those who want their children to be part of Toys for Tots this year can be submitted until Dec. 5 at https://bit.ly/3nMptz7.

When applying online, if it goes through correctly, you should receive an email with a control number. If you do not, please re-apply, Maidl said. 

Siskiyou Toys for Tots drop-off sites

Yreka 

  • The Thoughtful Nest 
  • Bella Artworks  
  • Dollar Tree  
  • Mount Shasta Title & Escrow 
  • Tractor Supply  
  • CHP-Yreka 
  • Cal Fire  
  • Primos Barber Shop 
  • Minton Hometown Properties Inc. 
  • Dollar General  
  • Dr. Bruce Riger  
  • Yreka Church of the Nazarene 
  • Grocery Outlet  
  • Carhartt Store (G&G Hardware)  
  • Mountain Living Realty 

Lake Shastina  

  • Lake Shastina Fire Department  
  • Lake Shastina Golf Course  

Fort Jones 

  • Scott Valley Family Resource Center 
  • Fort Jones Fire Department  
  • Gifted Horse Lodge  

Tulelake  

  • Tulelake/Newell Family Resource Center  

Weed  

  • Weed Police Department  
  • Dollar General  
  • Grocery Outlet  
  • Tri Counties Bank    
  • Dollar Tree  
  • Mount Shasta Title & Escrow 
  • Solanos  
  • Mount Shasta Brewery  

Mount Shasta  

  • Solanos  
  • Mechanics Bank   
  • Tri Counties Bank
  • Blue Star Gas 
  • Vyve Broadband 
  • All Trade Services, Inc. 
  • Mountain Living Realty  

Dunsmuir  

  • Dunsmuir City Hall 
  • Dollar General   

McCloud  

  • McCloud Market  
  • Mountain Living Realty 

Bill Choy covers sports and general news for the Siskiyou Daily News/Mount Shasta Herald/USA Today Network. Follow him on Twitter at@SDNBillChoy. Email Bill at bchoy@siskiyoudaily.com. Support local journalism by subscribing today.