Jeeps on the Run hosts 8th Annual Toys for Tots drive in Fox Lake, Waukegan

WAUKEGAN, Ill. (WLS) -- Hundreds of decorated Jeeps drove from Fox Lake to Waukegan with a big toy donation for the Marine Corps Toys for Tots on Sunday.

Jeeps on the Run has donated to Toys for Tots for the last seven years.

Ray Scarpelli Jr. with Ray Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram and Ray Chevrolet and Jeeps on the Run President Mike Missak both helped to organize Sunday's event.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, this year's Lake County parade looked different than in years past.
"We know this year will be different compared to any other event in the past. We however can't let a few changes stop us from helping our community," the group said in the Facebook event.

Each Jeep needed to register online before Sunday's event, however all Jeeps were welcome to participate with a minimum donation.

And hundreds turned out with thousands of toys for kids in need.

"We are looking at 600-plus Jeeps, filled to the brim with toys," Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Thomas Chevalier said.

Organizers said they have donated more than $600,000 in toys to kids in Lake County over the years.

"We are going to be on par to meet or exceed what we have done in the past seven years," Missak said.

Bag after bag of toys were packed into the Marine Corps vans, and the donations stay local.

"This event was great timing, and look at the turnout," Scarpelli said. "It is fantastic, great year to collect the toys for the Toys for Tots."

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many toy drives were canceled. This year, the Marine Corps Toys for Tots team said the need is greater than ever.

"We have seen the influx of toy requests from families for those who are less fortunate and from the events being canceled," Chevalier said. "We lost 75% of our events."

But, the group, masked up and ready for the delivery, were still bringing the holiday spirit Sunday.

"The joy you get from it is another level. We all get excited to give gifts to our own kids, but for someone who needs it, it hits home and makes you thankful for what you do have," Chevalier said.

The toys were taken to a warehouse to be sorted and delivered.
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