An Omaha musician’s spiritual journey, which led to the creation of a toy drive for the children of the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, continues this year. And you can help!
Waubonsie Station, located at 901 Main Street in Tabor, Iowa, will host the third annual Tacos for Toys event on Nov. 21, Thanksgiving eve.
The event featured live music from the Union County Band and a taco bar with a cost being either a $10 donation or one new, unwrapped gift.
Last year, the drive gathered $1,000 in donations and an SUV loaded with toys and bikes.
This toy drive has been going on for longer than three years and encompasses numerous fundraising events.
It all started when Larry Dunn, a musician from Omaha, began a spiritual search that resulted in a connection with a Lakota Sioux man.
Through that connection, Dunn began to learn more about the spiritual ways of the Lakota. He found that he was drawn to those ways.
From there, Dunn would connect with a Lakota Medicine Man and continue his spiritual journey.
He became familiar with and accepted by the Lakota people. During this time, Dunn was witness to heartbreaking poverty.
He said that, during a talk with the Medicine Man, he heard that children on the reservation did not expect to get anything at Christmas time because finances would simply not allow it.
Dunn thought about that situation and then brainstormed for what he hoped would be a way to bring some type of relief to the issue.
In the sprit of Farm Aid, a musical event aimed at helping family farms, Dunn decided to organize a concert to raise money and get toys for the children of the Pine Ridge Reservation.
That concert succeeded in bringing a truckload of joy to the children and started an annual tradition that has continued for well over a decade.
The experience of taking toys to the Pine Ridge Reservation had a big impact on that community. It had an even bigger impact on Dunn, who recalled the words of young child.
“See, Mom, I told you Santa wouldn’t forget.”
Dunn remembers being asked if he would be back to the Pine Ridge the next year. Obviously, he returned.
“How do you not keep it up after that experience?” Dunn said.
Witnessing the joy and being allowed into the world of these needy children lights up the life of nearly anyone.
“It will change you,” Dunn said, adding that even the famous Christmas hating Grinch from the world of Dr. Seuss would be changed.
The lessons about giving are not delivered along with the presents, Dunn said.
That lesson comes from the recipients.
Dunn tells the story of a Lakota boy who he saw while delivering presents. The boy seemed to be getting a hard time from some of the older kids. Turned out, it looked as though the boy had chosen a doll from the toys available.
Asked if that was the toy he wanted, the boy reported that, since his sister could not come to get a toy, he wanted to make sure that she got something.
He didn’t think of himself, even when he knew that he might take teasing for not getting a toy meant for him.
He thought only of his sister’s need.
“That kid knows more about giving than any of us,” said Dunn.

Can’t attend?
Those who can’t attend the Tacos for Toys event can donate or learn more about the toy drive at toydriveforpineridge.org/donate