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Toys for Tots wraps up successful campaign

By Pamela Jackson | | January 12, 2012

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Local Marine reservists kicked off the 2011 Toys for Tots campaign, Oct. 21, 2011, with an increased goal of 42,000 toys.

Not only did they meet their goal of serving 7,500 children, they exceeded it and successfully ended their campaign by distributing toys to local families, Dec. 17, 2011. “Due to the struggling economy and having more families in need, we increased our goal in order to serve more children in Dougherty and surrounding counties,” Gunnery Sgt. Kenneth Starkey, Toys for Tots coordinator, said.

In early December, with less than 10,000 toys collected, a media appeal was made to the community to help reach the goal.

“The community heard our call and helped us raise more than $10,000 over last year’s total and helped us serve more than 1,500 extra children, exceeding the number of those who signed up through Salvation Army,” Starkey said.

Starkey said the distribution process went smoothly and families were in line to receive their toys as early as 9 a.m. Marine reservists, some of whom were in dress blues, welcomed the recipients, carried bags of toys to cars and served in various other logistical capacities.

One of the recipients receiving gifts for her children was Portia Brown, a mother of three, who said it was a blessing to be able to come down and receive toys for her children.

“I was not able to get them anything this year and I thank the Marines for doing this for us and the other families,” she said.

1st Sgt. James Watson, first sergeant, Detachment 2, Supply Company, 4th Supply Battalion, 4th Marine Logistics Group, Marine Forces Reserve, was at the toy distribution site and said the Toys for Tots donors don’t get to see the impact they have on the families.

“This is the day when those who contribute a toy miss being able to witness what it’s like for the individuals who receive them because they are unable to provide a toy for their children,” he said. “The community really did a wonderful job in helping us exceed our goals by their outpouring of support. We are able to assist nearly 1,000 local families, thanks to them.”

Watson said the blessing was when he and the other Marines got to see the smiles on the faces of the parents and the thank you they received from every recipient who came to pick up the toys.

“The extra toys will be donated to police officers and other first responders, church groups and other youth organizations in this and other communities we serve,” Watson said. “We also take a box of toys to the emergency room at the hospital in the event a child comes in as a patient or with a family member.”

Starkey added there were still toys expected to be received after the distribution, so even after Christmas there will be toys available for children in need and the excess books would be given to different schools.

“In addition to the families served here, we collected and donated toys to outlying counties,” he said. “We wanted to make sure we didn’t leave anyone out and are proud the community came through for us again this year.”

Petty Officer First Class Lennox Bennett, assistant Toys for Tots coordinator, said several businesses, schools and organizations helped them exceed their goal this year and the money raised was spent locally at Walmart, Kmart, the Marine Corps Exchange and Toys R Us.

“Failure was not an option because we had 10 counties and thousands of children depending on us for a Merry Christmas,” Bennett said.


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