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Steve Frey (left) talks with Rodney Lange after Lange made his donation to the “Freezin’ for a Reason” which was set up south of the Prouty-Zearing Community Building on Main Street in Princeton on Wednesday. Frey and his wife, Kim, came up with the idea to sit in the Cocoa Cottage until 500 toys or $5,000 were donated to United Way.
PRINCETON — At noon Wednesday, Bureau County United Way's campaign co-chairman Steve Frey temporarily moved into Princeton's “cocoa cottage,” located next to the Prouty Building on Main Street. With just a chair, blanket, mini-Christmas tree and a small space heater, Frey stayed in the cottage until he had collected either $5,000 or 500 toys for Bureau County United Way's Christmas of Kids Toy Drive. With a lot of of luck and generosity from community members, Frey's stay only lasted about 61/2 hours on Wednesday. At 6:30 p.m. he had collected 524 toys and more than $3,500. The idea for this new event sparked when Frey and his wife, Kim, who is director of Princeton Chamber of Commerce and the other co-chairperson of the BCUW campaign, were trying to think of ways to better utilize the cottage. One idea led to another and “Freezen for a Reason,” was born. “We knew there was a big need and the number of families referred was up from last year,” he said. “We are just trying to do what we can to make sure every kid has a Christmas present.” Although Frey may have been “freezing,” he said this event is important. “Christmas is a really magical time and to think that some people have to miss out on it or are at risk of missing out on it really should pull at your heartstrings,” he said. “This is just a little way to make sure that there aren't any kids falling through the cracks.” Bureau County United Way director Michelle Lymberopoulos confirmed 570 Bureau County children have been referred to the toy drive this year. “We have a real high need for toys and donations,” she said. “I'm so grateful to work with people who have the ingenuity, and the generosity of their time and ideas to come out and help collect toys.”