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Pay It Forward

Pay It Forward: Toys For Tots


When you think Christmas, you think kids. It's their magical time of year. Remember those times? But some kids struggle to even have a Christmas. That's where this organization comes in.

Mike Crowley has been involved with the local Toys for Tots for the last 30 years. In fact, he's been the Idaho Falls area and Upper Valley coordinator for the last three years.

"I just feel a part of it," said Cowley.

Damian Lovell feels the same way. He is the owner of Avant-Garde LLC cleaning service. His company's mission is to "create opportunities to make a difference in unusual ways." He spearheaded a Toys for Tots event last year and wanted to do it again this year because it hits close to his heart.

"As a kid and as an adult, I've been on the receiving end during tough times and the gratitude that I have had in receiving those gifts from people means a lot," said Lovell.

He said when you witness what Toys for Tots does for kids on Christmas morning, he just knew he wanted to hold another toy raising event this year. This night, anyone could drop of a new, unwrapped toy here at the Paramount Theater and receive two movie tickets, two drinks, and a popcorn for a movie later tonight.

So, KIDK Eyewitness News 3 decided it was time to help. Time to Pay It Forward. News anchor Todd Kunz asked him if the donated toys stay local.

"Yes, they do," said Lovell.

"Damian, how are you?" asked a man walking into the theater lobby.

"Just a second. Good." replied Lovell.

"Good, so tell me how this works," asked the man, (Kory Carling).

"So," started Lovell.

"So, if I drop a toy in here tonight. What do I get?" asked Carling, pointing to the large empty Toys for Tots box next to Lovell.

"You get two tickets (to a movie)," said Lovell.

"Perfect. Well, I didn't bring a toy, but what I did bring today is $500 in cash. So if I drop $500 on behalf of Mountain America Credit Union, we'd like to Pay It Forward for all your hard work that you're doing in bringing this to our community and making sure all these kids have something to open up on Christmas," said Carling.

"Thank you," said Lovell, beginning to tear up.

"So, for all your hard work, we'd like to Pay It Forward for all that you do," said Carling.

"Thank you," said Lovell.

"You're welcome," said Carling.

"Wow, (inaudible)," said Lovell.

"Awesome," said Carling. "So, keep up with what you're doing."

"Thank you," said Lovell.

"You're welcome," said Carling.

"Wow, that means a lot. Thank you," replied Lovell.

"That's amazing. You know, people here in Idaho Falls are just so generous. They really are," said Crowley, standing nearby and witnessing what just happened.

Crowley said they will take care of more than 2,000 children this year in the Idaho Falls area and northward through the Upper Valley and into Island Park. South of Idaho Falls belongs to the Pocatello area chapter.

The Marine Corps has headed the Toys for Tots program since 1947. Nationwide, they took care of more than 7 million children last year with more than 17 million toys, according to Crowley.

A person can still donate a new and unwrapped toy before Christmas, but time is running out. Contact Mike Crowley at 208-520-5727.

"Pay It Forward" airs the second Wednesday of every month. If you know of a nonprofit organization or someone who deserves to be recognized for their contributions to the area, click on "Pay It Forward" on the right side of our website and fill out the form, or send an email to KIDK Eyewitness News 3 anchor Todd Kunz at

Todd Kunz

Todd Kunz

Todd is an anchor for KIDK Eyewitness News 3, Local News 8 and Fox 5.


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