Fast-food toys making Christmas brighter in Mexico

Monday, December 15, 2003

Children in Rio Bravo, Mexico benefit from the generosity of Southeast Missourian

The free toys found in McDonald's Happy Meals have been gathered and distributed to make Mexican children happy during mission trips made by LaCroix United Methodist Church volunteers.

According to Rick Dittlinger, a mission trip volunteer, the project started in 2002 when Lorili Ozbun sent the playthings along in a duffel bag. The toys are distributed in Mexican schools in Rio Bravo.

Dittlinger has been collecting toys to bring along when he helps build 12-by-16-foot cinderblock homes for Rio Bravo families. In October he brought about 150 pounds of toys. He also sends toys via UPS.

"It costs about $400 to ship about 10,000 toys," he said.

Toy collections were taken at LaCroix United Methodist Church, Notre Dame Regional High School, St. Vincent's, St. Denis, Clippard, Kelly High School and McDonald's corporate offices.

Dittlinger wants to encourage more individuals to donate toys. A drop-off location is currently being decided upon. It is requested that only these type of toys be donated. Although each toy may be different, they are fairly equal in value.

The following is part of a missionary's letter to Dittlinger:

"I just wanted to let you know that we have enjoyed the continuous shipment of toys coming this way. We were able to distribute hundreds when we had a gentleman play Santa Claus on a recent team. He visited two of the poorest schools, talked with the children, and gave them each a toy and some other goodies. We will also be giving the toys away at the many Christmas parties we have been invited to in the next two weeks.

"Please tell all that have contributed with the collection of these toys a great big thanks from the Hands Together Ministry."

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