Eight Annual Griz for Kids Toy Drive kicks off Saturday

Nov. 14, 2012

The Holiday season is something that most of us hold dear. It is the opportunity to spend time with family, eat way too much, and open some presents. The mystique is especially strong for children.

Children still hold out the knowledge that on Christmas Eve, Santa's sleigh is cutting through the cold winter night, propelled through the air by magic reindeer and the hopes of good little boys and girls everywhere.

Families all over the Missoula area are struggling to keep that childhood dream alive but Griz fans for the eight consecutive year have the opportunity to help.

The University of Montana is kicking off their eighth annual Griz for Kids Toy Drive on Saturday, November 17, when the Griz play host to the Bobcats.

At every entrance to the game there will be a drop-off where you can donate new, unwrapped toys. These toys will be distributed throughout the community by agencies such as the Watson Children's Shelters and Big Brothers/Big Sisters. These agencies have a strong working knowledge of the needs in their organizations and how to best distribute the gifts to those in the greatest need.

The gifts will serve kids from newborns to teenagers and help parents that may not be in the position to give their children a happy holiday season in this difficult economy.

Cash donations are also accepted at Saturday's game as well as at all Missoula Federal Credit Union locations, and credit union members can donate online.

The Grizzly football team is also on-board with the drive and leading the charge is junior linebacker Jordan Tripp.

Tripp was raised in Missoula and as a visible part of the community he knows the importance of giving back. Last football season he grew out his hair and donated it for children with cancer. He is especially motivated by the thought of helping Kids.

"I just put myself in their shoes and think about how hard it would be," Tripp said. "For the parents it must be devastating to not be able to give your kids even something small. For the kids that still believe in Santa, would they think they were on the naughty list?

"We have been blessed with the opportunity to play a sport and people look up to us," Tripp added. "Why not use that to put a smile on a few children's faces."

Last year Griz fans filled three delivery trucks with bags of toys and contributed more than $3,000 in cash donations. Tripp hopes to top that number with a little help from everyone.

"Little things add up; that candy bar, that meal at a restaurant, that new app on your phone," Tripp said. "If everyone makes a little sacrifice we can help children build confidence and have a better life.

"I remember being a kid and how fun it was to get rip open that paper and see what surprise awaited you. I didn't care if it was a big or expensive it was just the experience of feeling important and loved. I wouldn't want any kid to miss that."

The gifts will be distributed to Mountain Home Montana, Head Start/Child Start, Child and Family Services, Youth Homes Inc., Missoula Indian Services, Watson Children's Shelters, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, WORD/Futures Program, A.W.A.R.E. and Early Head Start.



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