Indiana Marines collecting money to buy toys for Ukrainian children

Published: Jul. 26, 2022 at 5:22 PM EDT
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INDIANA (WNDU) - Two members from the Elkhart Area Marines will travel overseas this fall to deliver toys to Ukrainian children displaced by Russia’s war. But Marines statewide are still on a mission to collect money to buy toys.

“There’s a lot of restrictions on toys that have to go over there. They have to have a certain, a CE label on it to clear Customs. So right now, the fastest way that we can do it is to just take the financial contributions, go to a wholesaler, actually go to Wisconsin and pick them up from them. So we can prepare them for shipment next week,” explained Chris Grendys, Junior Commandant for Elkhart Area Marines.

35,000 Ukrainian children now living in Estonia will receive the toys thanks to a partnership that emerged between the Marine Corps League Department of Indiana and Grand Design in Elkhart County.

“Our Senior V.P. of Customer Service Operations, Jerry McCarthy, and Brad Ulick of Elkhart Area Marines - they go way back. And so they were having a conversation and Brad brought up this initiative. And Jerry just point-blank offered, ‘Hey, I ship things overseas all the time. I have space in our brand new [Grand Design] warehouse here at 17. How can we help?’” said Natalie Bussard, director of marketing at Grand Design.

Grand Design is providing warehouse space for organizing the toys; company volunteers; covering the shipping costs to Estonia; and funding the 40-foot shipping container that will store the toys.

“That’s kind of always our goal and our initiative at Grand Design is do the right thing. And typically we have the means to do that. So we’re always happy to offer that help when we can,” Bussard added.

Grendys is one of the two Elkhart Area Marines who will travel to Estonia late September and be present when the Ukrainian children receive their new toys.

“Those children have had everything taken - from their house, clothes, toys. All they basically have is a shirt on their back,” he said. “Grand Design has been so gracious to, to donate a 40-foot container. And we’re looking to fill that with toys and take that over there and, you know, put smiles on kids faces again.”

The MCL Department of Indiana is accepting financial contributions until July 31st.

Click here to donate any amount.

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