Donate $20 to toy drive, receive Riverwalk photo
When Roy Bailey made an impassioned plea for help, Batavians listened.
"People have really responded," Bailey said. "Even the BHS basketball team is putting out boxes to collect toys at the two games this weekend."
Bailey spoke at the Batavia City Council meeting last weekend on behalf of the ACCESS committee or Batavia Action Committee on Community, Environmental and Social Services. Donations for the annual toy drive are down and the number of people in need of help is up.
Bailey's presentation at the council meeting reminded me of Frank Capra' s "It's a Wonderful Life" when a community steps in to help a family in need.
"We have 234 families, which results in 667 kids," Bailey said. "We try to make sure that each child gets warm mittens, a hat, a stuffed animal, a game and a toy."
The toy drive began in1950 when fire chief Bud Richter and the Batavia Rotary Club asked Batavians to donate used toys for distribution to families in need.
"The firemen would repaint the toys and fix any that needed fixing," said Mayor Jeffery Scheilke. ""Then they would take them to Batavia families."
After Richter, the toy drive was organized by Glen Haines, Don and Ruth Johnsen and Mildred Bailey, Roy's mother. Roy's dad, Roy Sr., would drive his truck around town to pick up the toys. It was Mildred who would put in endless hours to make sure that no child in Batavia would be without something under the tree on Christmas morning.
"Before my mother passed, she made me promise that the toy drive would continue and that I would be involved," Bailey said.
It wasn't easy for Bailey in the beginning. He found it very difficult to get people to donate.
"At first people would say, 'We'll get back to you,'" he said Bailey. "As soon as I said I was Mildred's son, people would say, 'What do you need?'"
Today, Roy and Jeannine Bailey co-chair the toy drive with Rudy Dubis and his wife, Marilyn. They aren't the only ones who know all about community involvement.
Mike Hoag comes from a family of volunteers. His father-in law, the late Lee Moorehead, was an active member of the Access Committee and his mother-in-law Betty organizes Books between Bites with his wife, Becky.
"Both Lee and Betty have been an inspiration to me," Hoag said, "and Batavia has been a great place to live and raise our family."
In an effort to help with the toy drive, Hoag, an amateur photographer, has offered a Riverwalk photo that is creating quite a stir on social media. For a $20 donation to the toy drive, he will send the donor a JPEG file (a photograph sent across the Internet) of the Riverwalk photo for printing at home. For those who don't print photos at home, you can take the file to an office store and they can print a 5-by-7-inch for under $3.00.
Hoag, a semiretired school psychologist, knows all too well about families in need.
"In recent years the numbers have gone up," he said. "So many families are struggling."
How can you help?
Unwrapped toys can be dropped off at the Batavia Public Library, 10 S. Batavia Ave.; Funway Family Fun Center, 1335 S. River St.; and the fire stations at 800 E. Wilson St. and 1400 Main St.
Cash, gift cards and checks, made payable to Batavia ACCESS and marked for the toy drive, should be sent to the Batavia Police Department, 100 N. Island Ave. If you would like the photo file sent to you, make sure you include your email address with the $20 donation.
What an opportunity. You can have a beautiful photo of the Riverwalk hanging on the wall and you help a child in need. Don't delay, write that check today.