Sign up, collect, give out: Toys for Tots drive in full swingPublished 9:08pm Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Five years ago, Beaufort County nearly lost its Toys for Tots program — there was no longer a Marine Corps Reserve representative to head up the program in Beaufort, Hyde, Terrell and Washington counties. If not for a few committed volunteers from a local church, a social service agency and a civic group, the program would have faded away.
Now, a partnership of three organizations heads up the program: Beaufort-Hyde Partnership for Children handles the sign up of families in need of toys; Washington Noon Rotary organizes the toy drive; and St. Peter’s Episcopal Church distributes the toys to those in need.
“Really, it certainly is a community effort. They might call it the Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots, but if it wasn’t for the community, there would be no Toys for Tots,” said Lisa Woolard, with Beaufort-Hyde Partnership for Children. “It takes a big community effort to be able serve 1,000 children.”
This week, Beaufort-Hyde Partnership for Children has been accepting applications for toys at its Washington Square Mall office. Drop-off boxes for gifts have been popping up across the county over the past two weeks — according to Beaufort Count’s Toys for Tots Volunteer Coordinator Rich Morin, the drive to collect toys officially began last week. Until the day of the last pickup, Washington Noon Rotary volunteers will be drumming up support for the program that gives underprivileged Beaufort County children gifts to open on Christmas Day.
“There’s so little chance to provide joy to these kids lives, considering the ongoing state of the economy,” Morin said.
Morin said all gifts collected in Beaufort County get distributed in Beaufort County, up to the point at which the needs of local children are met. Then, any additional gifts are sent to neighboring counties in need of more
“We’re not going to put them in a warehouse — we’re going to share them with other counties,” Morin said.
Sharing may be in store for this year. Tuesday, Woolard said Beaufort-Hyde Partnership for Children’s list is close to 300 names long. Last year, that list topped 1,000 names by the end of the week.
“I think we’re down, or they’re all going to come on Friday. I’m not sure which,” Woolard laughed.
Sign up is a simple process: a birth certificate is needed in order to verify the existence of a child in need. Infant to children age 11 and under are eligible. A ticket given to applicants at sign up, as well as a photo ID, must be presented to volunteers at St. Peter’s on Dec. 15 or Dec. 16 in order to claim gifts.
Giving a gift is even easier: drop-off boxes are in many businesses across the county. Unwrapped, new toys for children in the prescribed age range are appreciated, according to Morin.
From now until Dec. 12 — the last pickup day for Toys for Tots gifts — volunteers will be collecting gifts for little girls and boys.
“We’ve got an army of men and women that are really energetic and enthused about doing this for the community,” Morin said. “To brighten these kids’ eyes on Christmas Day—it will be well worth the effort.”