This year’s Operation Homefront Toy Drive, which is coordinated locally by the Highland County Veterans Service Office, kicks off Tuesday, Nov. 1 and runs through Friday, Dec. 2.
The Dollar Tree store in Hillsboro will collect the donations, and they will be distributed Wednesday, Dec. 7 to families of Highland County active duty service members, National Guard members, military reservists, and honorably discharged veterans who have applied to the program through the Highland County Veterans Service Office.
Support Our Troops of Highland County (SOTOHC) initiated the county’s involvement in the toy drive around 2016 as a way to help provide toys to service members and their families here. “When we learned a couple years later that we were able to also include honorably discharged veterans and their households. It was a great opportunity for our office to join in on this campaign to be able to help more families during the holidays,” said Highland County Veterans Services Outreach Coordinator Stephanie Roland.
The Operation Homefront organization has partnered with Dollar Tree for more than a decade to provide military families with recurring support during the holidays.
“It’s safe to say that thanks to the donating members of our community, this program has helped well over 50, maybe closer to 75 or 100, veteran and military families in Highland County since SOTOHC and our office became involved in it,” said Roland. “Sometimes it is not just providing the parents or guardians with toys for their children because we’ve also been able to help veterans who are grandparents be able to offer some holiday cheer to their grandchildren, especially if they have limited resources during this time of the year.”
Roland said Highland County is home to more than 3,200 military veterans, and it takes public outreach events, programs, and word-of-mouth marketing to try and reach them all. “We are the nexus between veterans and all of their federal, state and local benefits, and our goal is to help as many as we can get what they are deserving of,” she said.
Roland said each child served through the program typically ends up with 15 to 20 items at a minimum. Items that are donated through the campaign might be toys, games, puzzles, books, schools supplies and other items. “It’s truly a wide array of items that get donated,” said Roland.
“Every veteran that has utilized this program from us has been very thankful and appreciative, and it really is heartwarming to know that there are children out there that will absolutely benefit from us taking part in what Operation Homefront has brought to our community,” she said.
Reach John Hackley at 937-402-2571.