Staff Sgt. Luis Fernandez and HM1 Alexander Collins, coordinators, Toys for Tots, and Capt. Rebecca Sullivan, commanding officer, Salvation Army, gathered aboard Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany to formally kickoff the 74th annual Toys for Tots campaign, Oct. 7.
Toys for Tots is the largest Department of Defense outreach program. Fernandez said 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 13,000 toys and raised approximately $26,296 in the local area. These donations made it possible for us to help more than 3,600 children in southwest Georgia,” he said.
Fernandez 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,” he 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.
“The gift of a shiny new toy is something many of us take for granted, but for some, it is the greatest gift they could receive,” Fernandez said at the news conference kicking off the campaign.
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. Organizations within the community and the public at large are also asked to provide monetary donations to help support the campaign to meet this year’s goal.
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. 25-Oct. 28 and Nov. 1-Nov. 4 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Salvation Army location at 304 W. 2nd Ave. in Albany.
“This year, the Salvation Army considers it an honor and privilege to work alongside the Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots campaign,” Sullivan said during’ this year’s kick-off. “Even with the current COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s goal is to leave no child without Christmas.”
Sullivan said those wishing to sign up their children to receive toys should present the following documents:
- State-issued picture ID
- Birth certificates for all children applying
- Income from employer
- 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
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 Fernandez or Collins at 229-329-2717. Please write a check payable to the Toys for Tots Foundation. All donations made in southwest Georgia stay in the region.
Fundraising events are in the planning stages. Information will be published on the Albany GA Toys for Tots Facebook page as well as the official Toys for Tots page.