Staff Sgt. Tara Ballard, coordinator, Toys for Tots, and Capt. Rebecca Sullivan, commanding officer, Salvation Army, gathered aboard Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany to formally kickoff the 73rd annual Toys for Tots campaign, Oct. 2.
Toys for Tots is the largest Department of Defense outreach program. According to Ballard, it is a combined effort among the Marine Corps Reserves, local businesses and the Salvation Army to ensure less fortunate children have a Christmas this year.
“Last year alone, a joint effort collected more than 50,000 toys and raised approximately $10,000 in the local area. These donations made it possible for us to help more than 6,834 children in southwest Georgia,” she said.
Ballard also noted a big challenge this year is a lack of volunteers as well as the amount of support needed this year due to COVID-19. A “Call to Action” is being issued for MCLB Albany and community members to contribute to the program and its cause,” she said.
The Albany-based campaign is responsible for 16 counties including Dougherty, Lee, Baker, Terrell and Calhoun counties. This year’s goal, even with the current COVID-19 pandemic, is to at least meet last year’s campaign.
Those with the campaign are working with local businesses to display official Toys for Tots bins in and around the greater Albany area.
Everyone in the community is encouraged to get involved this year and donate an unwrapped toy between $10 and $15 – for both boys and girls – from infant to 12-years-old. Also, organizations within the community are being asked to provide monetary donations to help support the campaign to meet this year’s goal.
It should be noted the Albany Salvation Army will handle the family registration process and work alongside the Toys for Tots campaign to distribute toys to all registered families meeting the eligibility criteria closer to the Christmas holiday. The registration dates are Oct. 12-15 and Oct. 26-29 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Sullivan explained, “Those wishing to register their children must bring all of the required documentation below to complete the process.”
- State-issued picture ID
- Birth certificates for all children applying
- Verification of all income for the entire home (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Social Security, child support, employment, etc.)
- Current food stamp summary in the parent/guardian’s name
- Current rent receipt in parent/guardian’s name
- Current utility bill in parent/guardian’s name
Registration for Dougherty County is taking place in the side parking lot of Albany Civic Center. Signs will be posted directing people where to go.
For more information regarding upcoming events and donation sites, or to sign up to become a sponsor for a donation site, go to www.albany-ga.toysfortots.org/. Further information on the registration process can be obtained by calling the Albany Salvation Army at 229-435-1428.
For cash donations, it is encouraged for donors to contact Ballard at 229-329-1326. Checks should be made payable to the Toys for Tots Foundation. All donations made in southwest Georgia stay in the local community. Fundraising events are being developed and will be published on the Albany GA Toys for Tots Facebook page as well as the official Toys for Tots page.