Park district vows to regain trust of Marine Corps after Toys for Tots theft cases

Park district vows to regain trust of Marine Corps after Toys for Tots theft cases

Jim Newton
2–3 minutes

Foss Park District officials in North Chicago are vowing to regain the trust of the Marine Corps in an attempt to participate in future Toys for Tots drives after four district officials and employees were charged with stealing toys from last year’s charity effort.

“Unfortunately, the Marine Corps Reserves has elected not to partner with the Foss Park District this year in the Toys for Tots program. We are disappointed that this has occurred and will work hard to restore the Marine Corp Reserves’ trust in our agency for a future partnership,” Park Board Vice President Vance Wyatt said in a written response to a request for comment from the News-Sun.

Earlier this week, the Lake County coordinator for the Toys for Tots Foundation, Gunnery Sgt. Dennis Jones, said the decision had been made to sever ties with the North Chicago-based park district.

“We won’t be working with that organization again,” said Jones, referencing last year’s event that ended with theft charges.

Nonetheless, Wyatt said the Foss Park District supports the program and will provide information to residents about the area’s new Toys for Tots registration location at the Family First Center of Lake County in Waukegan.

“The Toys for Tots program has provided thousands of toys to the children of Lake County and the Foss Park District is grateful to the Marine Corps Reserves representatives who have made this program possible,” Wyatt said.

Jones said Family First will take over jurisdiction of the Toys for Tots area formerly covered by the park district, and will receive extra toys to handle the additional families it will be serving.

Facing felony theft charges in connection with last year’s event are board members Jimmy Baldwin and Susan Dixon. District employees Tommie Kindle and Mark Dixon Jr. also face felony theft charges.

Active Marine Latonya Dickerson pleaded guilty to charges of misdemeanor theft under $300 and is serving a probationary sentence overseen by the Lake County Circuit Court’s Veterans Court, according to the Lake County state’s attorney’s office.

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