MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY --
The Southwest Georgia Toys for Tots Program wrapped up its 2016 drive with a record number of toys donated.
The annual campaign began Sept. 30, 2016 aboard Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany and ended with the last bag filled with games, dolls and puzzles distributed, Dec. 24, 2016.
Gunnery Sgt. Jimmie Smith, coordinator, Toys for Tots, said the 2016 campaign was very successful.
“We collected 46,789 toys this year,” Smith said. “My personal goal was to have 35,000 toys but as you can see, that goal was exceeded. The goal for the program is for every child to have a Christmas and have a present to open on Christmas morning. We made that happen for many underprivileged children.
“It was an awesome feeling seeing the smiles on the faces of those who picked up toys at the distribution point in Albany, Georgia,” he continued. “It felt good knowing the Marines were able to help individuals that would not necessarily have Christmas.”
Smith described the campaign as “building relationships, making partnerships and being there for the community.”
“We started new relationships with new businesses, car clubs and various other organizations using the media outlets to educate the public about the Toys for Tots program,” he said.
One event that stood out to Smith was held at Toys R Us in Albany, Georgia.
“The event at Toys R Us was unique because it was our first car show and an Air Evac Lifestream helicopter, filled with toys, landed during the event,” he said. “This was one of our most successful events.”
Smith said he wants to expand the program by conducting more events including bowling tournaments and competitions between elementary schools, high schools and fire departments.
Overall, the campaign was deemed a success by Smith, despite the loss of toys due to a leaky roof.
“Unfortunately, some of the toys in the Albany warehouse received water damage due to the heavy rains in December, but the community responded with last minute contributions,” he explained. “The community not only replaced the toys that were damaged, but also they gave more, which helped us to exceed our goal.”
Although the campaign is only for three months, individuals can contribute to the Toys for Tots Program year-round, according to the second-year coordinator.
“Those who want to donate monetarily can do so by visiting www.toysfortots.org, click donate, click the state of Georgia and fill out the information requested,” he concluded. The Toys for Tots Foundation will collect all donations and send a debit card to the Albany, Georgia coordinator to purchase the toys.
Smith said he looks forward to working with everyone again during the 2017 Toys for Tots Campaign.