As a kid growing up in a farm community in Pratt, Kan., Dave Heitman normally saw one gift under the tree each Christmas for himself and another for his sister.
That image remains vivid in Heitman’s mind now that he is a 54-year-old father.
“That’s what makes me remember it,” Heitman said. “So many kids these days get so many toys that it becomes not special.
“I realized just getting one gift truly made me appreciate what it was all about. That really stuck with me through the years. Now that I have children, I try not to overload them with gifts because they don’t appreciate it.”
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What is important to Heitman is that every child receives something for Christmas. For that reason, he was thrilled when Frank Ancona Honda decided in mid November to participate in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves Toys for Tots program.
“Frank Ancona Honda is very delighted to become an official sponsor for Toys for Tots,” said Heitman, general sales manager at the dealership at 1000 N. Rogers Road in Olathe. “When you become an official sponsor, it automatically renews each year.
“We felt like there was a need for it. A lot of businesses do it. Because the Anconas have so many charities and organizations that they give to, they felt like this one, especially at Christmas time, is something special for the kids. That’s what it is all about.”
Heitman was pleased by the response from their customers. When Frank Ancona Honda initially inquired about doing a sponsorship for Toys for Tots in mid-November, the dealership thought it might be too late for this year.
“We got our name on the list,” Heitman said. “They brought out the banners, the boxes.
“We promoted it on our website and social media. It has made an impact on people bringing in toys for the tots. Those boxes are full.”
The Marines Corps Reserves picked up the toys on Wednesday. On Dec. 11, Heitman looked at the two full boxes of toys at Frank Ancona Honda and was very pleased by what he saw.
“That was set up two weeks ago, right at the beginning of December,” said Heitman, looking at the box full of toys. “We have had a great response. I never saw anyone put a toy in, but it seems every day there were more in there.”
Because of the generosity of the customers and employees at Frank Ancona Honda, a few more children in the Kansas City area will wake up to a toy on Christmas.
“It is not all about receiving, so it is truly a joy to have the Marines continue that tradition,” Heitman said. “It is something more and more businesses and organizations need to do to make sure there is not one kid who goes without one gift or a toy.”
U.S. Marine Corps Reserve started the Toys for Tots in 1995. The program aims to help less fortunate children throughout the United States experience the joy of Christmas. Over its lifespan, the program has distributed more than 416 million toys to more than 195 million less fortunate children.
“It is that time of year where there is that special feeling in the air, and the children need to keep that special feeling alive,” Heitman said. “This is one way to give back and help that. Thank goodness for the United States Marines Corps Reserves who created the event for giving toys for the ones in need and the ones who deserve them the most.”
If you have a story you would like to see in Making a Difference, email David Boyce at Drive@ksctar.com