The local holiday tradition that Amber Dillenkoffer started as a 12-year-old middle school student will bless children again next month when the Southeastern Louisiana University sophomore hosts her eighth annual Christmas toy drive.
The annual Amber’s Reason for the Season Toy Drive started when Dillenkoffer was a preteen in a pageant. The event involved donating toys, and each year since then Dillenkoffer has continued to collect and distribute gifts to local children in need.
Last year her event collected 420 toys.
“I’m hoping with some support from campus organizations we can hit 500 this year,” Dillenkoffer, who is a member of Alpha Omnicron Pi at SLU, said. “I’ve just been so blessed. My parents have supported me in every way since I was small, so this is just my way to just bring the community together and give to the community.”
In the past Dillenkoffer has partnered with Toys for Tots, Access Health, Northshore Families Helping Families and other groups in organizing the drive. This year will be the second year that she is organizing the event on her own, but she added that the Dat Dads’ Club will be financially assisting her this year.
“It is the most rewarding thing ever,” Dillenkoffer said. “I love getting to invite people to come volunteer at the event. People don’t get to see that very often … to walk with the kids and help them pick out a toy … it’s really touching.”
This year the toy giveaway will be held Dec. 17 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the American Legion Hall in Norco. Updates regarding the event will be posted to the Facebook page “Amber’s Reason for the Season Toy Drive.” She added that no registration is needed for the event.
“It’s first come, first serve,” she said. “We’ll stay there until people stop coming or we run out.”
Dillenkoffer said she is working on drop-off locations now for the toys, and that those will be updated to the Facebook page. She hopes to have two to three spots on each side of the river for people to bring new and unwrapped toys. Dillenkoffer said those interested in helping with the giveaway can also donate money that she will use to purchase toys.
“It’s my favorite time of year,” she said.