(Photo Courtesy Chronicle-Telegram)
According to the official history, it all began back in 1956 when a former C-T business manager, C. Russell Stokely, began a toy collection for children at Green Acres Children's Home in Oberlin. At that time, the box was named the "Santa Box." By 1957 (according to my research and contrary to the 1958 date commonly given), the box had acquired its more familiar name.
The official mascot for the Not Forgotten Box is Jingles, a huge stuffed bear. For decades, Jingles has kept an eye on the donation box, and posed for photos with the generous donors who drop by the C-T offices.
But Jingles wasn't always the mascot, according to my research.
In the early years, there didn't seem to be any mascot associated with the campaign. But according to the December 4, 1965 Chronicle-Telegram, a stuffed king of the jungle maintained a vigil next to the toy box that year.
The paper stated, "Joey Denes, 2, wasn't really lion-hunting when he visited the C-T lobby the other day, rifle in hand, with his mother, Mrs. Rudy Denes of RD 1, Diagonal Road, LaGrange. It was a friendly safari, he assured Lloyd, lion mascot of the Not-Forgotten toy box."
Here's the cute photo of Joey and Lloyd that ran with the article (below).
Lloyd was featured throughout the campaign that year. Here's another photo and caption (below), that appeared in the paper on December 15, 1965.
I'm not sure how long Lloyd was king of the toy box, but by 1967 some monkey business was underway – along with a new mascot.
He was unveiled in the November 29, 1967 edition of the Chronicle-Telegram in an article written by Connie Davis.
"Looking for action? Then come over to the lobby of The Chronicle-Telegram. Things are really jumping here now and a big toy monkey with the shiniest brown eyes you ever saw is responsible. He's Jumpin' Jack, mascot for the Not Forgotten toy collection campaign this year. Jack is on loan to us from the Elyria Furniture Company through the courtesy of Myron Averbook. He's going to help us in the big task of collecting about 2,000 toys so that every needy child in the Elyria area will be happy on Christmas morning.
"Jack is a joyous volunteer with a great big smile on his simian face. He loves kids. Whenever he sees a child bringing a toy for the Not Forgotten box he jumps with joy. And how he jumps! His red- and-white checked shirt balloons out, his arms wave up and down. Jack wants every boy and girl in this area to come and see him jump."
Here's the photo that ran with the article (below).
But when did Jingles make his very first appearance? For that, you'll have to wait until Part 2 of this story is posted tomorrow!
I'll bet you can bearly wait.
Don't forget – Saturday is the last day for donations at the Not Forgotten Box in the Chronicle-Telegram lobby. Click here to visit the C-T website for all the details, as well as a great gallery of photos of donors posing with Jingles.