On Friday, Dec. 23, the Evangelical Covenant Church of Belvidere will host the annual Joy of Christ Toy Distribution to benefit children from Boone County who might otherwise go without a toy this Christmas. The event will be held at the church, located at 220 E. Harrison St. in Belvidere, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Children must accompany their parents in order to receive a toy. The event was launched by Rev. Don Norek in 1993 as an outreach to children living in the apartments behind Dodge Lanes.

Back then, toys were distributed from the back of his pick-up truck. As the event began to grow, it was moved first to the area in front of His Glory Outreach Center on State Street in downtown Belvidere and then to the Community Building.

The Evangelical Covenant Church has been hosting the outreach for the last five years. Over 1,500 people were on hand for the event in 2015, with 520 children receiving toys in recognition of the birth of Jesus.

“This really is a community-wide effort,” Evangelical Covenant Church Rev. Scott Nellis said. “We partner with over 30 different churches, businesses, and community organizations to make this happen. People from all over the community volunteer their time and donate toys for the event. I can’t say enough about the generosity and support given to make sure that every child in Boone County has a joyful Christmas. Seeing the smiles on the faces of the children as they receive their toys is the gift they give to us.”

Collection barrels are stationed at Ace Hardware, Applebee’s, Ashley’s Salon and Spa, Belvidere Physical Therapy, Blackhawk Bank, Caledonia Elementary School, Culver’s, DiCello’s Pizza, Dr. Tuneberg’s Dental Office, Dodge lanes, Dollar General, Family Dollar, fast lane Threads, Fiesta Market, First Presbyterian Church, Grandma’s Restaurant, Ida Public Library, J&D Countryside, Jack Wolf Cadillac-GMC, Keen Age Center, Manley’s Ford-Lincoln, McDonald’s, O’Brien and Dobbin’s Snyder’s, Open Bible Church, Pacemaker Foods, Pizza Hut, Shell Station, Shopko, Snyder’s – Poplar Grove, Steam Plant Restaurant and Tom and Jerry’s. Toys also can be brought to the Evangelical Covenant Church. Warm hats, gloves, mittens, scarves and blankets are also welcome.

To help with the Joy of Christ Toy Distribution, please contact Pastor Nellis at (815) 547-6471.

To receive a gift for your child, come with your child to the church which is located at 220 E. Harrison St. in Belvidere, on Friday, Dec. 23 at 6 p.m. Toys will be distributed until 8 p.m.

Due to the limited resources on hand, only children from Boone County can be served.

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