Toys for Tots began in 1947 when Major Bill Hendricks and a group of Marine Reservists in Los Angeles collected and distributed 5,000 toys to needy children. The idea came from Bill’s wife Diane who crafted home-made dolls and told Bill to deliver them. When he realized there wasn’t an organization specifically for distributing toys to needy kids, Hendricks started one.
The 1947 pilot project was so successful that the Marine Corps adopted Toys for tots in 1948 and expanded it into a nationwide campaign.
“When we had the marine reserve unit here in Rome, they organized the Toys for Tots event,” said Hal Gosnell, TFT coordinator for Floyd, Chattooga and Polk counties. “When that unit left, the Marine Corps League took it over until this year. Now the Exchange Club of Rome is the local community organization.”
Gosnell said local families can register with Toys For Tots at the next registration which will take place Dec. 1 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Good Neighbor Ministries, 208 E. Second St.
Children newborn to 12 years old may be registered.
“We encourage parents to register whose children would otherwise not have a good Christmas,” he said. “Some families can’t afford to buy presents for their children and these are the people we’d like to help. These are the children we’d like to give toys to.”
To register, parents or guardians will need a proof of residence in Floyd County, an identification card, social security card and the child’s social security card or birth certificate if those are available.
Families who register, will be given a registration card with information on picking up the toys.
Toy distribution will take place Dec. 15 at the Coosa Valley Fairgrounds. Families will be given a time slot to pick up their toys. At the event, parents will present their registration card and volunteers will choose toys according to gender and age group. Each child will receive a toy, a stocking stuffer and a book.
“If possible, we prefer if parents not bring the children along,” Gosnell said. “I think it adds to the surprise of getting that toy on Christmas morning. The parents can take it home, wrap it and the child won’t know where it came from.”
Area residents who would like to donate to Toys For Tots can do so at any of the numerous drop-off locations across town. Gosnell said donation boxes (bearing the TFT logo) are located at more than 100 different sites including area banks, Dollar General stores, Walmart and Kmart as well as Redmond Regional Medical Center and Floyd Medical Center.
Donations can include a new, unwrapped toy or book. Any cash donations made are kept locally.
A major Toys for Tots fundraiser takes place Dec. 6 at the Rome Civic Center starting at 5:30 p.m. There will be live and silent auctions with items donated by local businesses. Auction items will include a membership to the YMCA, a microwave, a kayak and jewelry.
Gosnell said when all is said and done, he and other organizers and volunteers are happy to know that local kids will wake up on Christmas morning to at least one brand new toy of their very own.
“I’ve seen parents with tears in their eyes,” Gosnell said. “I get calls almost everyday from people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to provide a toy for their child or grandchild for Christmas. We know there are families in this community who are having a tough time. With the community’s support we can make sure all those kids have a good Christmas.”
Toys For Tots dates to remember:
Freedom Seekers Bike Ride to benefit Toys for Tots
Starts at Rolater Park, Cave Spring.
Riders will meet at 11 a.m. The ride beings at 1 p.m. and ends at the Coosa Valley Fairgrounds in Rome.
Admission is one new, unwrapped toy.
Final registration for 2012
Register your child at Good Neighbor Ministries, 208 E. Second St.
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Parents/guardians will need proof of residency in Floyd County, a picture ID, social security card and the child’s social security card or birth certificate if available. After this registration, no applications will be accepted for 2012.
Toys for Tots fundraiser with live and silent auctions
Rome Civic Center
Admission is $5
Toy distribution event
Coosa Valley Fairgrounds
Parents or guardians who have registered their children will be assigned a time block in which to pick up toys. Each child registered will be given a new toy, a stocking stuffer and a book.