Annual toy drive to benefit children

By Debbie Kosinski

The 24th annual Benefit Show Toy Drive will be held in the hope that Santa will forget no child this year.

The benefit will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. Dec. 5 at the G.E. Union Hall, located on 14th and State streets.

For 23 years Gary Mullis, a lifelong DeKalb resident, has organized a musical benefit show, with the help of Levern Day, also a DeKalb resident.

Some types of music that will fill the G.E. Union Hall are country, bluegrass, gospel and Christmas music.

Admission to the show is a new toy that will be given to the Salvation Army for all needy children in DeKalb County.

Although the show has its regular performers, such as a country-western band that has played at the benefit for the last five years, all amateur performers are welcome.

Day, a member of the annually-returning country-western band, said people may recognize the names of fellow members Jimbo Theis, Claude Frye, Steve Steder, Robby and Dave Andersen.

In past years, the show has been very successful with an average attendance of 350 people, each bringing a couple toys a piece.

All workers for the benefit are volunteers, and Mullis ensured more help is always appreciated. “It’s not very difficult to set up one of these benefits; however, there is a lot of work in it,” he explained.

“Each year we need people to help out with things like cleaning and seating,” Day said.

Day, who is master of ceremonies each year, noted he and Mullis are always trying to form a committee to assist in the show’s arrangement and operation, yet it is hard to get people to commit.

The Salvation Army will provide a concession stand for the duration of the benefit. Food served will include barbecue beef sandwiches, hamburgers, hot dogs, pastries and side dishes.

Usually, about 20 to 25 entertainers perform each year and all attending have always enjoyed the show, Day said.

“Entertainers of any kind of music are welcome to come and perform,” Day noted.

“It’s something for the entire family,” Mullis expressed. “I encourage people to come out and bring toys for this good cause.”