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Project Joy bringing smiles to community

December 20, 2013
Pierce County Tribune

The Rugby Lions Club and Project Joy once again captured the spirit of Christmas by helping 43 families and more than 200 individuals.

About 25 Lions members chipped in to ensure less-fortunate area youth had gifts this season. Former Tribune editor Mark Carlson started Project Joy.

"His dad used to say they couldn't celebrate Christmas until they had taken some of their toys and given them to someone else," Project Joy co-chair Lila Harstad said, "and it kind of was, like, 'Well maybe we should have people bring toys to the Tribune.' "

Article Photos

Tim Chapman/PCT
These Hess model toys were among the many gifts donated for Project Joy this year.

Years later, the tradition continues as families make wishes each year and others pull a tag off the Project Joy Christmas Tree and purchase that gift.

"It started out just being toys and it was used toys and then it got to be that people were bringing junk," Harstad said. "So it was kind of like let's get a list of people who need some things and ask them what they want and then put tags on trees."

Harstad said some area families have followed Carlson's lead and have their children pick tags each year in order to help others.

Lions members presented the gifts on Tuesday at Dakota Farms.

"You get tears in your eyes," Harstad said. "Some people say, 'We are just out of work and in between things and if we didn't have this we wouldn't have any toys for our kids and we're so appreciative of this and thank you so much.' "

- Tribune Staff Report



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