The annual Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots campaign is underway in Greenbrier and Pocahontas counties.
Since 1947, this nationwide program has been providing free toys for children in need at Christmas. The success of the program has been outstanding, especially in southern West Virginia.
Local Toys for Tots Coordinator JP Stevens said that over 6,800 toys were given to more than 1,200 children in Greenbrier and Pocahontas counties in 2020. This year, he said they hope to give even more children a great Christmas. However, to make this happen, families who need a little extra help must apply, those who wish to help need to donate and volunteers need to offer their assistance.
To apply for toys, families with children ages 15 and under need to visit the website toysfortots.org and click “Request a Toy.” From that point, follow the online instructions to locate the Greenbrier County campaign and fill out an application, Stevens explained.
“Make sure to include a contact number,” Stevens said.
Once the application has been submitted, local Toys for Tots representatives will be able to fill a bag with toys specific to the interests of the child. Closer to Christmas, families will be notified that the toys are ready for pick-up. Stevens said he hopes to have the toys available for pick-up at local fire departments this year.
To donate toys, Stevens said there are Toys for Tots donation boxes located in Greenbrier County at Walmart and at Ollies.
A person can purchase a toy and simply drop it in the box, Stevens stated. Bicycles are always a Christmastime favorite, but all toys are greatly appreciated. There are just a few things to keep in mind when donating.
Toys should be new and in original packaging, Stevens noted. Items like clothing and stuffed animals are not encouraged because they can get dirty while being transported from the store to distribution sites to children. Also, toys like BB guns and air pellet rifles are not accepted.
For those who want to donate, but can’t make it out to the store, they may send a financial contribution, Stevens added. To send a donation, visit toysfortots.org, or mail or drop off a contribution to City National Bank Attention Toys for Tots, 732 Main Street Suite 5, Rainelle, WV, 25962.
“All of the contributions stay local,” Stevens assured. He said that applications and donations need to be in by December 15.
“If anyone has trouble accessing the internet or figuring out how to apply for toys or want to donate toys, call me,” Stevens said. His cell phone number is 304-673-4586. “I will help any way I can.”
“The Marine Toys for Tots motto is ‘Every Child Deserves a Toy,’” Stevens said. “My local motto is ‘Every Child Deserves a Christmas.’”
Stevens said that this year, he hopes to see more families in Pocahontas County apply to receive toys. Also, he said that volunteers are needed to help pick up toys, bag them and get them to children.
To volunteer, Stevens said to give him a call.
Since he began working with the Greenbrier County Toys for Tots campaign back in 2011, Stevens said he always sets aside a few toys each year, just in case he needs to give out a toy at the last minute.
“There might be a house fire, or something like that, which would prevent a child from experiencing Christmas,” Stevens said. “If we have a kid who needs a Christmas, we are going to take care of them.”
He encouraged everyone to take part in the Toys for Tots program and make this Christmas the best one yet.