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Chester football holds annual Toy Drive.

The Chester High School football program held its annual Christmas Toy Drive at Chester Wal-Mart on Dec. 9, as players got an opportunity to shop for those less fortunate.

"Its a great opportunity for them to give back to the community," said Chester coach Billy Belton. "Were thankful that they get the chance to help people out."

According to Belton, Chester Wal-Mart donated $2,300 to this years effort, while Knight Hawk Coal donated $3,000.

"One hundred forty kids are receiving presents and then (organizers) will buy gift cards for the older kids," Belton said. "Hopefully as many as we can, I think it will be over 200 kids."

The Toy Drive was started in 2008 by former Chester coach Bryan Lee, who is now at Carbondale High School.

Lees defensive coordinator, Jeremy Blechle, kept the tradition alive while he was the Yellow Jackets head coach in 2015 and 2016, and Belton - who recently completed his first year as head coach after several years as an assistant - took the mantle this year.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of disadvantaged children have benefitted from the Toy Drive during the initiatives history.

"Its just a great event and I wouldnt change it," Belton said. "Coach (Bryan) Lee started it, coach (Jeremy) Blechle continued it on.

"I think its a great event."

The players get a list of children to shop for and a specific amount to spend, which occasionally creates the humorous scene of macho football players figuring out which Barbie doll is the better buy.

"Thank you to the sponsorships, thank you to Wal-Mart for allowing us to come out and do this on a Saturday and thank you to the guys for coming out," Belton said.

This is also Amy Eggemeyers last year of conducting the toy drive as Chester Grade Schools liason. A longtime school nurse at CGS, Eggemeyer is leaving the school next month to take a position at Chester Memorial Hospital.

"Shes a huge part (of the Toy Drive) and were going to miss her," Belton said.

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Publication:Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Date:Dec 13, 2017
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