Toys for Tots collection and distribution now underway

Toys for Tots collection and distribution now underway

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Toys for Tots has begun distributing toys to area families from a warehouse in Sherrodsville. A charity started by the United States Marine Corps after World War II, Toys for Tots delivers new, unwrapped toys as Christmas gifts to families who might otherwise have empty space under the tree.

“We are distributing toys now from the warehouse,” said area Toys for Tots coordinator Bob Stratton, a retired marine. “Families can pick up toys Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.”

Stratton said more than 100 families have come to the warehouse for toys so far. Distribution continues through Dec. 20. The warehouse is located at 6034 Dana Road NW in Sherrodsville.

Meanwhile, toys are being collected at locations around the area. Look for merchants with a Toys for Tots sign and you’ll find a collection box inside. There are 50 collection boxes available to gather donated toys.

“All of the toys we collect go to area families,” Stratton said. “Monetary donations we receive all go to buy toys. Our team is made up of all volunteers, and they’re a good crew. It takes a lot of help from a lot of people to do this every year.”

It is the reaction of the children, in large part, that keeps Stratton going each year. “The faces of those kids when they get their present — they just light up. That’s what makes all the work worth doing.”

Stratton began his efforts within his own church more than 30 years ago and has been overseeing the local Toys for Tots annual effort for the past five. His efforts have survived natural disasters, a warehouse fire and a delivery vehicle that had seen better days.

Undaunted, Stratton continues to do the work of getting toys into the hands of children. “Many of those kids might not have anything otherwise,” he said.

No application process is necessary to receive a toy. “Any kid who needs a toy is welcome. There is no application necessary,” Stratton said.

The U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program collects new, unwrapped toys throughout the months of October, November and December and distributes them to less fortunate children during the Christmas holiday season.

The toys are meant to be a symbol of hope. The program had its official origins in the mid-1990s as an outreach program of the Marine Corps. It was initially founded in response to helping soldiers’ families who were hit by defense cutbacks.

The Toys for Tots program has grown since its beginning in 1947 and has delivered more than 620 million toys to 281 million children. The Marine Toys for Tots Foundation raises funds, purchases toys, provides promotional and support materials, manages all funds raised and donated, solicits corporate support, educates the public, and handles day-to-day operations nationally.

“It seems like every year there are more and more families who need help at Christmastime,” Stratton said. “We have seen a lot of families already this year, more than last year and the year before that.”

Monetary contributions can be mailed to Toys for Tots, ℅ Bob Stratton, P.O. Box 113, Sherrodsville, OH 44675.

“We are always very grateful for any help people can provide. That’s what makes this all possible,” Stratton said.

Learn more about the Toys for Tots program at www.toysfortots.org.