Toys for Tots drive in full swing for the holidays

Published 7:19 pm Friday, November 24, 2017

Toys for Tots may have gotten a late start this year, but that hasn’t deterred organizers’ commitment to providing a merry Christmas to the less-privileged children of Beaufort and Hyde counties.

The Marine Corps Reserve toy drive collects unwrapped gifts for the children of parents/caregivers who apply through Beaufort-Hyde Partnership for Children. The list of children is then compared to those of other gift-giving organizations such as Salvation Army, to ensure as many children as possible are provided gifts, according to Washington (noon) Rotary member Sarah Parker. This year, organizers have expanded the age range to gifts appropriate for infants through 12-year-old children.

“I think part of (the reason for that) is just because of need,” Parker said. “They’re really encouraging people to buy for the 10- to 12-year-olds.”

Toys for Tots started in Los Angeles in 1947, after a Marine Corps Reserve major and his wife decided to donate toys to needy children. During the 2016 holidays, 18 million toys were distributed to 7 million less fortunate children in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands, according to the Toys for Tots annual report. In Beaufort County, the program is run jointly by Washington (noon) Rotary, Beaufort-Hyde Partnership for Children and St. Peter’s Episcopal Church.

Beaufort-Hyde Partnership for Children’s role ensures that children in need are matched with toys, while Washington (noon) Rotary Club members hand out Toys for Tots boxes and collect the toys for distribution at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Washington.

Once donated toys are distributed to local children, excess gifts are shared with neighboring counties with donation shortfalls.

The drive is in full swing now, and the last day toy donations can be made is Dec. 8. Distribution of the toys will take place on Dec. 10. According to Lisa Woolard, executive director of BHPC, applications are still being accepted for children in need.

“We’re getting started later than we would have liked,” said Rotary member Rich Morin, who coordinates the local toy drive. “But a late start is better than no start.”

Toys for the campaign can be donated through many businesses and agencies across Beaufort County. For a comprehensive list of donation sites, see Tuesday’s issue of the Washington Daily News.