The couple that launched the Share-a-Toy program nearly 50 years ago is being honored this week. The program provides toys to hundreds of children in Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri every Christmas. Vince and Judy Else live in southwest Iowa.
Vince Else says he was teaching Sunday School in the 1960s when one of his students mentioned his family couldn’t afford to buy him a Christmas present. “So I found an old toy tractor, cleaned it up and gave it to his dad. He came back to Sunday School the next Sunday and was just as excited as could be because he got a toy for Christmas,” Vince said.
Last year, the program provided 8,000 toys at no cost to 830 children in the three states. Judy Else says the program has become a “family affair” as their four children and five grandchildren help collect and deliver the toys.
“It’s turned out to be a year-long project,” Judy said. “It used to be a month or two…but now, with 8,000 toys, it takes all year.” The Elses are among seven people being inducted this week into the Iowa Volunteer Hall of Fame.
To learn more, visit: www.volunteeriowa.org