It is not too late to help approximately 450 Highland County children who have been signed up to have a brighter Christmas thanks to the local Toys for Tots program.
Wade Hamilton, the director of Hillsboro’s Samaritan Outreach Services, which oversees the Toys for Tots programs in both Highland and Fayette counties, said that in Highland County local residents can drop off items at any of 32 locations in the county through Tuesday, Dec. 19.
In Fayette County, gifts were being distributed Friday, Dec. 15, but in Highland County they will not be handed out until Friday, Dec. 22.
Everything donated at a county location stays in the county where it was donated, Hamilton said.
The dropoff locations in Highland County are: In Hillsboro – Big Ernie’s Pizza, Cashland, CashMax, Community Market, The Cutting Crew, Dollar General, Giovanni’s Pizza, Highland County Senior Center, Highland Lanes, Kroger, Lowes, NCB, Paul Mitchell Salon, Peebles, Roger Williams Auto, Samaritan Outreach, Speed of Light Laser Tag, Vapor Town, Veterans Service Commission, West Main Urgent Care, YMCA; in Danville – Danville Church of Christ; in Greenfield – Dollar General, both locations of Merchants Bank, Fifth Third Bank; in Leesburg – Dollar General, Highland County North Joint Fire/Ambulance District, Batter Up Bakery; in Lynchburg – Pappy’s Pub; in Mowrystown – Chuck Wait Tire, Old Y Restaurant.
Initiated in 1947, Toys for Tots accepts monetary and donations of new, unwrapped toys only. Monetary donations can be made at www.highlandcountytoys.com or can be dropped off or mailed to Samaritan Outreach, 537 N. East St., P.O. Box 242, Hillsboro.
The local coordinator this year is Tracy Abrams, who can be reached at 937-393-2220.
Samaritan Outreach took over the local Toys for Tots program five years ago, then added Fayette County at the request of the national program a year ago when the former coordinator there was no longer able to do it.
“There was a void and someone brought it to our attention that there hadn’t been a Toys for Tots in Highland County for several years,” said Hamilton, who serves as assistant coordinator of the local program. “We decided we were up for it. If there were kids that needed help at Christmas, we wanted to try to provide that. Samaritan Outreach is here to help the community, so it was a natural fit.”
Each child that Toys for Tots helps receives a large toy in the $20 to $30 range, a couple smaller toys, stocking stuffers, and a book.
The program is funded through donations and a couple fundraisers, along with help sometimes from the national organization.
Anyone with kids needing assistance can visit www.highlandcountytoys.com for more information.
“We’ve had a lot donations already this year,” Hamilton said. “We really want to thank the people of Highland County for putting smiles around Christmas trees on Christmas morning.”
The mission of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program is to collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year, and distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children in the community in which the campaign is conducted.
The primary goal of the program is to deliver, through a new toy at Christmas, a message of hope to less fortunate youngsters that will assist them in becoming responsible, productive, patriotic citizens.
Toys for Tots began 70 years ago when Major Bill Hendricks, USMCR, and a group of Marine reservists in Los Angles collected and distributed 5,000 toys to needy children. The idea came from Bill’s wife, Diane. In the fall of 1947, Diane handcrafted a Raggedy Ann doll and asked Bill to deliver the doll to an organization that would give it to a needy child at Christmas. When Bill determined that no agency existed, Diane told Bill that he should start one. He did.
The following year the United States Marine Corps adopted Toys for Tots and expanded it into a nationwide community action project as the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves Toys for Tots Program. Marines at each Reserve Center throughout the nation conduct toy collection and distribution campaigns in the communities surrounding the center.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or firstname.lastname@example.org.