For a moment, imagine the stress and frustration that must come with working to support your family, but still coming up short. When the money runs out before the days in the month do, and then along comes the happiest time of the year.
It might be hard to seem happy when you struggle to be Santa for those who rely on you to do just that.
Monty McCuiston, owner of Max’s 641 Towing in Murray, saw families and fellow parents in that struggle at Christmas when his kids were in school. He saw Family Resource Centers at both Calloway County School and Murray Independent Schools also struggling—fighting to fill the gap between their funding and the rising needs of their students and families.
“Being involved with the schools and seeing the struggles that a lot of families have, we just felt like that we needed to give back to our community,” Monty recalls of the beginnings of Towing for Toys.
“Being in business here for so long, we wanted to repay in a way that could be a part of the families in our community.”
What he learned very quickly, he remembers, was that the magnitude of the need he’d recognized in his community and aimed to fill outstripped even his greatest imagination.
“In our first year, we knew that there was a need but we had no clue what to expect,” he says.
“We thought if we could raise $500 or $1,000, we’d be doing exceptional.”
“And, we did that–in our first year, we brought in about $1,500.”
“We were slow getting going, but after that first year, seeing firsthand how things are and how many families and children that are needing help, the next year we doubled and the third year we tripled that, and then last year we ended up with a little over $25,000 in donations and toys.”
“This year, our goal is to hit $30,000.”
For the Family Resource Centers that Monty works to provide for, his work truly has been exceptional.
“Monty just took this opportunity and ran, and it’s amazing how every single year he just does more and more,” says Jan Wilson, Little Laker Family Resource Center Coordinator for Calloway County Schools.
Calloway’s Laker Christmas Program, according to Jan, provides Christmas gifts to between 600 and 1,000 children a year—kids who would otherwise have few or no gifts under the trees without it.
“We try to spend or have toys that amount to between $100 and $125 per kid,” Jan says.
“That’s a huge need, and we don’t have the money in our grants or our funds to provide this.”
“We have to rely on the community to donate everything.”
“We’ve done this for 20+ years and it never fails.”
“We’ll sit and worry, worry, worry, but then it comes through.”
“When Monty started Towing for Toys, the donations have just amazed us.”
“We take donations from other people, but his program probably does one-third of all the needs that we have.”
Even though Family Resource Coordinators like Jan Wilson and her counterpart Janeann Turner, Coordinator of the Den Youth Service Center for Murray Independent Schools, still facilitate the program – taking applications from families, interviewing applicants in Calloway’s program, compiling wish lists and childrens’ clothing sizes, inventorying donations and packaging gifts – one of the major chores has been taken off their stressed shoulders, thanks to Monty’s Towing for Toys.
“In the past, we’ve had to go out to banks and stores and ask if we can put up a tree and let us hang Tiger Tags,” says Janeann.
“You can see Tiger Tags in Wal-Mart and in a couple of the banks, but a majority of them Monty has taken over.”
“That’s just one area that we don’t have to worry about anymore.”
Jan echoes the sentiment.
“His program has reduced our coordinators’ stress levels tremendously,” she says.
“Knowing that he is out there fighting for these kids and wanting to make sure that every one of these kids has a good Christmas is just amazing.”
Much like little elves, Monty’s employees at Max’s 641 Towing spend the year making opportunities for their fellow community members to give. A benefit concert in 2018 partnered with a Tow Truck Pulling Event was a signature event, but smaller fundraisers that range from rebate nights at local restaurants to t-shirt sales all combine to bring in enough money and toys to meet the rising need.
“More and more families are struggling,” says Janeann.
“Even homes with two parents still struggle.”
Lucky for those families, in Murray and Calloway County, it turns out Santa drives a tow truck instead of a sleigh.
The Towing for Toys elves work year-round to ensure that all families in Murray and Calloway County have a very merry Christmas. To keep up with their fundraising efforts or to learn how you can donate or volunteer, visit www.towingfortoys.com.
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