The Toy Drive for Pine Ridge is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that collects and delivers toys for children of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, and raises heating fund donations to purchase propane for elder households.
The Toy Drive started in 2003 with Larry Dunn—an Omaha musician also known as Lash LaRue. In 2003, Dunn arranged a benefit concert to collect toys for Pine Ridge children, with several musician friends volunteering to perform at the event.
Each year has added more concerts and other events, such as radiothons, summer events and concerts outside Omaha. Because of the growth of the Toy Drive, Dunn expanded its reach on Pine Ridge, offering a variety of assistance over the years: providing resources to a medical clinic on the reservation, educational resources for schools, resources for suicide prevention groups and establishing the heating fund.
The Toy Drive currently partners with multiple schools and early childhood centers for the toy giveaways in mid-December, and continues the heating fund each year.
Dunn and the Toy Drive were recognized by the United Way of the Midlands in 2010 at their 55th Annual Volunteer Recognition Luncheon for representing top community spirit and volunteerism in an ethnic population. The Toy Drive has received corporate grants from the eBay/PayPal Foundation, and continues each year because of outstanding community support.
What began as one person’s wish to provide for children growing up in poverty became an official non-profit organization. An organization that could not exist without the support of community donations and volunteer efforts to assist residents of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.