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Local Toys for Tots campaign needs volunteers

Think of COVID-19 as the Grinch who has affected Christmas for some under-privileged Beaufort County kids this year.

However, the good folks of Whoville, in this case Washington and other area towns, still have a chance to step in and save the day.

The area Toys for Tots operation usually runs smoothly as the Beaufort-Hyde Partnership for Children, the Washington Noon Rotary club and St. Peter’s Episcopal Church work together to make sure county kids have a few presents to unwrap on Christmas morning.

The effort relies on volunteers and toy donations, both of which have been harder to come by this year.

“We have around 30 locations in the Washington area where people can drop off toys and a lot of those boxes are empty or close to it,” Rotary coordinator Henry Capogna said. “We are supposed to empty the boxes next week (December 5th) and I’m afraid we won’t have enough toys to distribute.”

The BHPC signed up approximately 600 children this year and the toys are housed and distributed from the All Saints Hall at St. Peter’s on Dec. 13th.

“We need people to donate toys, a few volunteer drivers to go empty the boxes and bring them to St. Peter’s and groups to help inventory and sort the toys by age and gender,” Capogna said.

The group held back some toys from last year and have received donations from Nutrien in Aurora and the Vidant Beaufort hospital. The Greenville Toys for Tots chapter donated $1,500 while businesses and individuals have added another $800 that will help the group buy toys.

“We appreciate all the help so far, but based on demand from past years, we could use more,” Capogna said. “We are not giving away bikes this year to create more space for social distancing in All Saints Hall, so that creates a need for other toys. The age group is for infants to 12 years old, boys and girls. We’ve had some really neat toys in the past and hope that continues. We have 750 boxes of Antman action figures and Han Solo (Star Wars character) card games with eight sets in each box. Those are great, but it would be nice to add some variety.”

You can drop off toys at Eastern Radiology, G.W. Walker Flooring, Washington Police Dept, Beaufort Co. Sheriff’s Dept, Beaufort County Health Dept, Camfil, Pamlico Plantation, Washington Funeral and Cremation, Tractor Supply Company, Burke’s Department Store and Wal-Mart with additional locations around Washington. The organization is also accepting checks payable to St. Peter’s Church with Toys for Tots in the memo line. You can drop it off at the church office at 101 N. Bonner St. in Washington or mail it in. If you or your group would like to help sort toys on Dec. 5th, contact Sarah Ninan at 252-721-0112 or email her at sarahgninan@gmail.com. Volunteers will be required to wear a mask and have their temperature taken.  Spaces will be marked off to maintain social distancing between and within each group of volunteers and there will be hand sanitizer available.