Albany, Ga -- Dancing took on a new meaning for one 14-year-old Albany resident, July 12.
Bonnie Miller not only danced at a downtown Albany clubhouse to celebrate her birthday, but for all the presents she received from family and friends.
Dubbed a Christmas in July dance party, the soon-to-be ninth grader at Deerfield-Windsor School in Albany didn’t play with the more than 50 toys, however.
She collected them for girls, ages, 9-14, for the Marine Corps Reserves’ annual Toys for Tots campaign in Albany and its surrounding communities.
The annual drive begins in October and runs through December.
“We started talking about what she wanted to do for her birthday party and sometimes a July birthday is not as easy because people are out of pocket and it’s hot,” Julie Miller, Bonnie’s mother said. “She wanted a dance party and we started talking about what did (she) really want for (her) birthday from (her) friends and relatives.”
Bonnie said she really didn’t want anything, but since people were going to bring gifts, she decided to give them to others.
Their friends and family brought unwrapped toys and put them in a box on a table adorned with a Christmas tree.
“It was fun,” Bonnie said. “We got to dance and eat cake. “One of my friends sent a toy even though she couldn’t come to the party.”
Julie noted that quite a few of her daughter’s friends contacted them before the dance to make sure they bought the right toys.
“The people (who) got the invites were into it,” Julie said. “They cared to make sure it was what the Toys for Tots toy drive needed. We’re sending thank you notes to her friends.”
Bonnie said she will have another event like the dance again. She’ll try to get her friends involved when the official Toys for Tots campaign begins and feels like she’s setting the example for them as well as hopes they would help with the program.
Bonnie added that she wants to have a Halloween party at her house and have her friends bring a toy instead of candy. If they don’t come in costume, they must bring two toys.
1st Sgt. James Watson, first sergeant, Inspector-Instructor, Detachment 2, Supply Company, commended Bonnie’s actions and said it was great to already have some toys. His unit conducts the campaign here.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity and a great learning experience to give back to the community at a young age and to show other teens and adults the right thing to do for others who are less fortunate,” he said.
The Marines will hold two new events this year along with the ones they conduct each year to collect toys, Watson said.
“We’re going to try to do some different things this year like Rock for Tots at the new Cask and Kilts Irish Pub in Albany featuring local country and rock and roll bands, who will donate their time, and a silent auction,” he said. “We’re still doing the golf tournament and Stuff the Trucks at Wal-Mart. A date and time for the Rock for Tots has not been set up, yet, and the events’ details for the upcoming campaign will be announced soon.”
In 2010, local business members and communities’ residents donated 9,500 toys and 1st Sgt. James Watson, first sergeant, Inspector-Instructor, Detachment 2, Supply Company, purchased 5,000 more toys from $5,000 in funds delivered from the public.
Each child received four toys and every household received books, Watson said, noting the local Toys for Tots campaign assisted 6,600 children in 2010 and requests were more than 2009.