Hot cocoa fundraiser again helps Toys for Tots

2012-12-06T23:30:00Z 2012-12-07T00:01:39Z Hot cocoa fundraiser again helps Toys for TotsBy SUSAN OLP solp@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

Ashley Voegele and Ashlyn Hardy hope that when people drive down Glantz Drive on Saturday night to view the Christmas lights, they’ll stop by 3628 Glantz Drive for a sweet treat.

For the seventh year in a row, the girls are holding a Toys for Tots fundraiser on the street that’s nicknamed Misfit Lane. All of the houses feature characters from the movie “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” as well as holiday lights.

Ashley, 15, and Ashlyn, 14, both freshmen at West High School, plan to sell hot chocolate and candy canes from 5 to 9 p.m. They will also collect new, unwrapped toys and cash donations that will go to buy toys.

Six years ago, when the two best friends were in grade school, they watched a Toys for Tots ad on television, Ashley recalled.

“We saw the commercial where a little boy went up to a Marine and put his Christmas list in the Marine’s hand,” she said. “We started asking our parents what that was about because we gave our Christmas lists to Santa.”

When their parents told them the Marines helped less-fortunate children by collecting new toys for them, the two girls wanted to help out.

Ashley, who lives on Glantz Drive, knew how many cars drive by to look at the lights. So the girls decided to sell hot chocolate to passing motorists.

That first year they made about $1,000, all of which they used to buy toys for the Marines-led charity. They decided to turn the cocoa stand into an annual event.

Since then, they’ve raised more than $14,000 in toy donations and money. Their goal for this year is $6,000.

These days, the West End Target store helps out by donating all of the cocoa and supplies for the fundraiser. In turn, the girls buy the toys at the store.

Marines also work with the girls, taking part in the sale of cocoa and candy canes, with Toys for Tots boxes set up to collect unwrapped toys. A cup of steaming hot chocolate goes for $1, Ashley said.

“But people usually donate $5, $10 or $20,” she said.

The fundraiser will go on, regardless of the weather.

“One year it was like negative-20 degrees and we were still out there,” Ashley said.

The generosity of people, she said, is what makes it all worthwhile.

“So many people have helped out, and it’s amazing what people will do,” Ashley said. “We’re so thankful for everything.”

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