How can you help? There are a few options.

  • Shop online through the Salvation Army's virtual toy shop.
  • Drop off a new unwrapped toy for a boy or girl at Lou Bachrodt Auto Mall this Friday, December 4 at our annual (drive-thru) Toy Drive.
  • Purchase a toy (or for the older teens... a gift card, toiletries, etc.) at and drop in the box at any Rockford-area Walgreens.
  • Text TOYSHOP to 51555 to make a donation.

If anyone needed proof of how tough 2020 has been in northern Illinois, this is it.

Count your blessing because there are many families in the 815 who are absolutely struggling. Look at the event and bar/restaurant industry, there have been catastrophic changes in those industries alone. It would be ignorant to not believe the ripple effect of COVID-19 hasn't affected every industry in the area and around the world. The proof lies within the number of families seeking assistance from the Salvation Army in Winnebago County.

What is even sadder is the number of children who will likely not find any gifts from Santa under their Christmas tree this year. There's even a probability of some families not even being able to get in Christmas tree for their home in 2020. This is why the annual Q98.5 12 Hours of Salvation Army Toy Drive is so important this year. This is why the Salvation Army started getting the word out about needing extra donations for families beginning in late summer. The number of families needing assistance will make you ill.

When planning this year's toy drive we knew things would be a lot different and I'm not talking just the execution of the event. We were told the number, a few months ago, sat at 16,000 families. In comparison, roughly 5,000 sought assistance in 2019. That number has since surged to an unprecedented level. According to RRSTAR, the number has increased by 500% compared to this time of the year in 2019. What is also not surprising is the DECREASE of donations during their Red Kettle Campaign, which is behind the total of monetary donations at this point last year.

The Salvation Army has a fundraising goal of $350,000 at its 36 Red Kettle locations in Winnebago County. Currently, $41,000 has been donated, compared to $57,000 at this time last year.

We also need in-person VOLUNTEERS who are feeling healthy for the day of the drive-thru, mask and gloves are required. Send an email if you're interested in volunteering as an individual or as a group.

JB Love is ½ of  Q98.5's Lil Zim & JB In The Morning, weekday mornings from 5:00 a.m. to 10 a.m. Follow him on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook.

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