|Written by Mark Lineberger|
|Sunday, 04 December 2011 00:00|
For more than 60 years, the Marine Corps Reserve has worked to brighten the holidays for children through its Toys for Tots program, putting toys into the hands of boys and girls whose families can’t afford to buy their children gifts.
“The objectives of Toys for Tots are to help less fortunate children throughout the United States experience the joy of Christmas,” reads the organization’s official mission statement. “To play an active role in the development of one of our nation’s most valuable resources — our children; to unite all members of local communities in a common cause for three months each year during the annual toy collection and distribution campaign; and to contribute to better communities in the future.”
For the past eight years, that effort has been headed up in the Verde Valley by Krys Vogler and a team of volunteers that collects toys at many locations for distribution to children in Camp Verde, Clarkdale, Cornville, Cottonwood, Jerome, Lake Montezuma and Rimrock.
Last year, the program saw more than 6,000 toys distributed to local youngsters. It’s a long way from the 800 toys distributed in the program’s first year.
Now the holidays are approaching again, which means the Verde Valley Toys for Tots organization is once again relying on the public to help make their mission successful.
After all, without people generous enough to donate the toys in the first place, the program wouldn’t be able to function.
The group depends on several other agencies to help make sure that Toys for Tots is a success locally, including local fire departments and law enforcement agencies whose members give their time to help assemble and distribute the toys each year.
The group finds recipient family names through contacting local schools and other organizations like regional crisis intervention groups.
“Each child gets more than one toy, to really make it a Christmas,” Vogler said. “We really do try to make it a real Christmas.”
A lot of what the group is looking for is accessories for other toys as well.
“We get tons of Matchbox cars and tons of Barbies,” Vogler said. “We look for things to go with the cars or things like Barbie’s hair extensions.”
The group also gives away some higher end items like bikes and skateboards, some which will be raffled away at special Christmas parties — Friday, Dec. 16, in Cottonwood and Monday, Dec. 19, in Camp Verde.
“Every child goes home with something, though,” Vogler said.
The toy drive is holding a sign-up for potential recipient families Saturday, Dec. 3 at the Wal-Mart in Cottonwood from 1 to 4 p.m.
Vogler said families must bring a valid Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System ID card in order to confirm eligibility.
Drop-off locations for toys are scattered throughout the Verde Valley, including several retail outlets and other partnering sponsor locations.
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