Toys for Tots hopes to make Christmas brighter

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Debbie King, Coordinator of Toys for Tots, and Grant Thayer, Commanding Officer of the Marine Corps League at the time of this photo, pose for a photo at a toy drop-off event in 2017. There will be two toy drives this month here, one Saturday and another on November 19. (File photo)

Toys for Tots will mark its 75th year of collecting toys and donating to help underprivileged children have a better Christmas, and for the past twelve years a Mount Airy chapter of the national effort has worked hard to help children local.

That continues this year, with Toys for Tots boxes springing up at businesses across the county and two official toy drives scheduled for this month, according to Debbie King, local Toys for Tots coordinator.

And despite the name, the group collects items for all ages of children, from birth to 18, as long as the 18-year-old is still in high school.

“Toys, books, backpacks and hiking products” are among the items the group can accept for Christmas distribution. She said individuals can put toys in the boxes wherever they see them throughout the county.

“We have boxes at Elkin, Dobson, Pilot Mountain, Mount Airy, Siloam. We have a lot of trucking companies this year who have decided they would like to help…they all have boxes to pick up which is exceptional.

Unfortunately, she said the boxes were no longer in Walmart stores, which were a major source of traffic for potential donors. She said the application process to put the boxes and displays was different this year for this retailer, and all the days she tried to get for a display in the Elkin store had already been taken by many. other agencies. She said Toys for Tots never received a response from the Mount Airy store.

With no displays at these two retailers, as well as the general downturn in the economy, King expressed concern this year.

“We don’t expect to get this much,” she said, prompting him to make a call to the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce.

“I asked the chamber of commerce to ask their business owners if they could just donate $20, there is a box at the UPS office they can donate to, box 156 .” She said if all the businesses in Mount Airy donated just $20, it would probably meet their needs for the year. “We could buy toys for every kid who wanted one.”

King has also scheduled two toy drives, where volunteers from the organization will be on hand to help collect toys. One is Nov. 12, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the City of Mount Airy Schools Administration Building

“We’re going to have a few people there; people can just drive by and drop off a toy or if they want to donate money they can.

The second toy drive will take place in the parking lot of Cousin Gary’s restaurant on Key Street in Pilot Mountain. It will be November 19, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“Last year we helped 1,382 children,” she said, giving away 6,664 toys. But, she said, that doesn’t mean every one of the 1,382 children was inundated with toys — Toys for Tots’ reach goes beyond its direct distribution.

“Also included in that count, we donate to the Salvation Army and some of the ministries in the area,” she explained. His agency works closely with the Salvation Army and other agencies to distribute available resources to ensure as wide coverage as possible. Unlike these other agencies, however, Toys for Tots does not distribute food or other items.

“The Toys for Tots Foundation is basically created for toys.”

Nationally, the program began in 1947. Locally, King said Marine Corps League Detachment 1325 petitioned the agency for a local, a petition that was granted when the local organization found a coordinator who could engage in annual training for the program.

King, who has worked with Toys for Tots for 12 years, has served as coordinator for the past five years.

In addition to donating new toys, individuals can make cash donations. Posters in the area advertising the event include a QR code that donors can use to donate, or they can go to the Toys for Tots website at https://mount-airy-nc.toysfortots.org/ local-coordinator-sites/lco-sites/default.aspx?nPageID=100&nPreviewInd=200&nRedirectInd=3

People wishing to apply for holiday help with toys for children and teenagers can do so on the same website, although the deadline is December 12.

“In case people don’t know, Toys for Tots is a 501(c) charity, and 97% of every dollar donated goes to buy toys.”

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Raymond I. Langston