Toys for Tots Receives Much Needed Help
Published December 26th, 2013
Toys for Tots is a toy drive sponsored by the Marine Corps Reserve that makes sure needy families can give their children toys for Christmas.
The struggle for the program in Levy and Gilchrist counties to find enough toys was solved by a few proud soldiers.
The program started a little late this year in Gilchrist and Levy counties, causing a shortage of toys and other donations.
But a group of veterans came together to jumpstart the toy drive just in time for Christmas.
"We had a slow start," said Bryan Chrisp, Toys for Tots coordinator for Gilchrist and Levy counties.
It was his first year taking on the the Toys for Tots effort for Levy and Gilchrist counties, and with a late start, things weren't looking too good.
In the end, about 800 kids were given toys this Christmas for both counties and previous coordinators say that's half the of the normal amount.
"So next year, we'll have a good strong team and we'll start much sooner with our campaign as well," said Chrisp.
But Toys for Tots wouldn't have gotten far without a well-needed jump start from real life heros.
"Organizers were starting to see they weren't having as many toys as usual and that's when the American Legion Post 91 stepped in and made sure every kid had a toy this Christmas," said Lauren Lettelier, TV20 News.
"It really makes my day to see the kids happy. This is what it's all about, giving. This is what the Marine Corps League is about, giving. It's what the American Legion is about," said Post 91 member Ted Henley.
The American Legion donated $1000 to Toys for Tots then other companies, individuals and organizations started to do the same.
Walmart let them hold toy drives in front of their stores in the area during the three weekends before Christmas, helping coordinators meet their needs.
And children didn't just get one toy, they got five.
"Everybody came together. Everyone was there to help us out and make certain that all the children's needs were met," said Chrisp.
It wasn't just one hero that saved Christmas for these children.
It was a community of heroes.
"It makes all of us feel really good because we give toy to kids who really need and toys and get them. So it really made us feel good about the thing we had done," said Henley.
Next year, coordinators say that Levy, Gilchrist and Dixie county will combine for a tri-county effort for Toys for Tots.
Here's a list of sponsors:
Custom Pine Straw
Gilchrist & Levy schools
Gilchrist Veterans Service Office and other local veterans organizations
City of Trenton & Chiefland
Gunner w/SkyFrog Landscape & Tree SVC
Trenton City Bar
Neil Lofgren with The Traveling Newberries
The Ladies of Trenton NAPA who raised over $1,000.
Assistants Steve Copeland, Frank Mathis & Melissa Beach and other friends and volunteers from schools
Little League sports, churches and veterans organizations.
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