Toys for Tots concert Dec. 11

Photo caption: Highland County Toys for Tots Coordinator Becky Barnes and her husband, Todd, an assistant coordinator for the program, are pictured with some of the toys collected so far.

By Jeff Gilliland – [email protected]

Updates from Santa Claus as he travels from the North Pole to Hillsboro will be part of a new concert to benefit Highland County Toys for Tots this month.

The concert will feature local talent and will be held at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 11 at the Southern State Community College Theater in Hillsboro.

Admission is the donation of one new, unwrapped toy for Toys for Tots, which hopes to help over 500 Highland County children have a more joyous Christmas this year.

“Every Toys for Tots organization across the country has to do at least one fundraiser a year, so we’re trying to do something a little different from all the other fundraisers,” said Wade Hamilton, assistant coordinator of the local Toys for Tots campaign. “Now that the Colony Theatre is gone we thought maybe we should try to do a Christmas concert. We don’t get a lot of that in Hillsboro and it’s something people can come out and enjoy during the holiday season.”

The evening will feature performances from the Hillsboro Ohio Community Band, Eric Huff, First United Methodist Bell Choir, Daniel Jacky and Christopher Ford, Noreen’s School of Dance, Ashley and Jasmine Cumberland, The Samaritan Singers, First United Methodist Choir, a reading of “The Night Before Christmas” from Times-Gazette Publisher Gary Abernathy, and live sleigh tracking from Buckeye Country 105.5’s Bryce Matson as Santa makes his way to the concert.

“We’ll have some video feeds through the evening of Santa’s progress as he makes his way from the North Pole to Hillsboro, and maybe some fun delays mixed in along the way for the kids,” said Hamilton, also the director of Samaritan Outreach Services in Hillsboro, the organization that sponsors Toys for Tots in Highland County.

Registration for those interested in receiving help from Toys for Tots will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 7, 8 and 9 at Samaritan Outreach, 537 N. East St., Hillsboro. The easiest way to register, Hamilton said, is to bring your ID and a Medicaid card for each child in your household. Other documents may be accepted if prior arrangements are made by calling 937-393-2220. The toys will be distributed by appointment only on Saturday, Dec. 19.

“Basically, if you qualify for public assistance you will qualify for Toys for Tots, and a few exceptions are made,” Hamilton said.

There are 33 Toys for Tots dropoff locations in Highland County. They include, in Hillsboro – Big Ernie’s Pizza, Hillsboro Administration Building, Community Market, Dollar General, both Family Dollar locations, First State Bank, Highland County Senior Citizens Center, Highland Lanes, Hillsboro Police Department, Kmart, Kroger, NCB Bank, Paint Creek Fire/EMS District, Peebles, Samaritan Outreach, Single Office Stop, The Times-Gazette, Time Warner Cable, Veterans Service Commission and Walgreens; in Greenfield – Dollar General, Greenfield City Building, both Merchants Bank locations, Paint Creek EMS/Fire District and Shopko; in Leesburg – Dollar General, Highland County North Joint Fire/Ambulance and Southern Hills Community Bank; in Rainsboro – Paint Creek EMS/Fire District; in Danville – Danville Church of Christ; in Mowrystown – Old Y Restaurant; in Sinking Spring – Family Dollar.

The last day to dropoff toys will be Wednesday, Dec. 16.

All toys must be new and unwrapped. Monetary donations can be sent to Toys for Tots, P.O. Box 242, Hillsboro, Ohio 45133.

Toys for Tots began in 1947 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, which 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.

Since its inception 60 years ago, the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program has distributed more than 313 million toys to 151 million children. In addition, the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation has supplemented the collection of local campaigns over a 13-year life, providing more than 47.4 million toys valued at $243 million.

Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.