Toys for Tots collection is underway in region

Toys for Tots collection has begun to help local children have a better holiday season.

James Wolfe, Toys for Tots coordinator, said the collection for this year began Nov. 2 and collection boxes will be picked up the week of Dec. 14-18 at local banks, grocery stores, toy stores, car dealerships and any other businesses that requested a box.

“Last year, we collected 14,808 toys, and purchased 2,000 toys and bicycles,” he said, “We distributed 20,991 toys to 3,871 needy children in this area.”

Toys that are donated to the program must be new, unwrapped toys, he said.

The collected toys are then taken to the distribution site in Stephens City where they are sorted by age and sex and are distributed to local children, he said.

Donations can also be in the form of money by visiting the Toys for Tots website at http://tinyurl.com/c7dj9kd, and sending a monetary gift donation.

“Between 95 cents and 97 cents of every dollar collected in this area is spent on toys in this area,” he added.

Toys for Tots workers are all volunteers so money is spent on the children, not personnel.

“We have no paid personnel,” he said.

Toys for Tots is also assisted by civic organizations in order to serve a larger region.

The Rotary Club handles Strasburg sites; Woodstock and Edinburg locations are helped by Massanutten Military Academy.

Warren County has a group of community volunteers who help with the collection. The Berryville Lions Club works with the Clarke County collection. The Marine Corps League, Young Marines, and a group of volunteers work in Frederick County. In Page County, the high school Honor Society lends a hand.

Wolfe said the program began in 1947 by Marine Maj. Bill Hendricks in Camp Pendleton, Calif. Based on a suggestion by his wife Diane, Hendricks brought a group of reservists together and collected about 5,000 toys for the local children.

Today, Toys for Tots is still coordinated by the Marine Corps Reserves. In Northern Virginia, there are no marine reserve units for Toys for Tots, so the Winchester detachment of the Marine Corps League coordinates the program. The league is a group of former marines and fleet marine force medics.

To apply for Toys for Tots assistance or to request a collection box, contact James Wolfe at 540-327-4127 or email chesty890@aol.com

Contact staff writer Kaley Toy at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or ktoy@nvdaily.com