Each year in October, the Marine Corps Reserve units begin to collect toys for disadvantaged youngsters across the nation. Shepherd University contributes to the cause in addition to many local businesses.
In Shepherdstown there are also collection boxes located at the Phi Epsilon Kappa – Gamma Mu Chapter, Brown’s Tire, Towing & Auto Care Center, Inc., Shepherdstown Middle School, Shepherd University Department of Music, the Dollar Store, the Shepherd University Student Veterans Organization and both locations of Jefferson Security Bank.
In addition to the collection box on campus sponsored by the SUSVO, they will take part in the Toys for Tots collection event at the Sears Home Store in Harpers Ferry on Nov. 29. All unwrapped, new and gently used toys will be accepted, and Santa will be on hand for a photo-op. All proceeds from the sale of pictures with Santa will benefit the SUSVO organization.
“Most boxes in the area are picked up between the 18th and 20th of December, but we will take toys until Christmas Eve because we fill requests until then,” Paul Turner, coordinator of the drive for eight counties in the Eastern Panhandle, said. “The last day of formal application to receive toys is Dec.7, and I tell ya, there are over 1,000 families’ requests to fill even after the 7th.”
“We presume and rely on the honesty of people,” Turner said of those who apply for toys. Only applicants who in the past were found to be dishonest are rejected. To request toys, visit toysfortots.org and fill out the questionnaire. Toys are distributed to youths aged 15 and younger.
“We are happy to help anyone that applies,” Turner said.
Both new, unwrapped toys and gently used ones are accepted. All toys are distributed. Needy families receive the new donations while the pre-owned ones are given to the low-income day care centers in the area.
Volunteers make the operation go round, and in the Eastern Panhandle, the force is strong. In the three months that collection takes place both individuals and organizations provide the necessary power for collection operations, distribution of toys and staffing of the warehouse.
As the Toys for Tots official website states, “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 Toys for Tots 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.”
Find a collection box and do what you can, log on and request toys or call Mr. Paul Turner at 304-267-7338 for additional information.