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Toys For Tots Kicks Off For The Holiday Season

US Marine Corp
Toys For Tots Now Taking Donations

Last year Toys for Tots distributed over 17 thousand toys to children in Central Texas, and this year will be no different.

In many places, The US Marine Corp handles all aspects of Toys for Tots, but here in Central Texas, it’s a group effort.  The Marine Corp joins together with the Salvation Army to help screen families based on need.

“I Don’t want to put any extra stress on them.  I try to just know what I know, and to help them to be able to qualify.  My job is not to disqualify, but to help people qualify.”

Major April Taylor is with the Salvation Army of Waco and McLennan County, and says that she has done the process many different ways.  From having a cattle call if you will, to like this year, setting up appointments over several weeks to meet with families.

The appointment process allows for those unexpected things that happen in life, not to get in the way of kids getting the toys and support they need.

“When the food is not on the table that’s the crisis of the day.  When I don’t have gas that’s the crisis of the day.  It looks different, life looks different through those lenses.”

Major Taylor says that people from all backgrounds come asking for assistance during the holidays, and one lady stood out to her.

“No hair, and she got like a little scarf on her head.  And I’m looking at her and this is the Grandma, who’s raising these kids.  And, um, just trying to make it.  And when I see that, I’m asking for as much help as I can get.  Because that to me right there is becoming more frequent than it needs to.”

The Salvation Army and the Marine Corp are currently in the process of collecting toys and monetary donations for this year’s Toys for Tots.  There are collection bins across Central Texas and you re asked to donate a new, unwrapped toy.  Staff Sergeant Jacob Negley with the US Marine Corp and is this year’s Toys for Tots coordinator, and says there is one age group where the need for toys is big.

“I believe it was around three to seven, both boys and girls were pretty high.  As compared to the two ends, zero to two and 8 to 12.

There are also ways that business and organizations can get involved with Toys for Tots, including hosting a toy drive for Toys for Tots, and Staff Sergeant Negley says that the Marines can provide you with the collection boxes and other collection supplies.

The Marines collect and sort the toys for distribution day.  Since COVID, the families are given a time to show up for a drive through process, where the Marines load the toys into the cars.

“They drive around, we identify the number of the family is, and there is a bag that is associated with it.  We pull the bag out and a Marine in dress blues, will present that to the family.  They’ll load it into the back to the car, and say, you have your toys, have a Merry Christmas.”

The deadline for donating new and unwrapped toys is Friday, December 10th, and if you want to get more information about hosting a toy drive you can find it online at Waco dash tx dot toys for tots dot org.