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Toys for Tots

Ensuring an Elkins tradition continues

Submitted photo The Marine Toys for Tots Foundation is teaming up with local officials and organizations to make sure area children have a Christmas to remember this year. From left are Elkins Police Department Chief Travis Bennett, Mayor Van Broughton, Major Lee Stuckey from the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, City of Elkins Executive Secretary Chelsea Boggs, and City Clerk Jessica Sutton.

ELKINS — To ensure approximately 2,500 kids in 10 counties will have a special Christmas, Major Lee Stuckey from the United States Marine Corp and the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation has spent the last two days in Elkins seeing that the local Toys for Tots event doesn’t become another annual tradition canceled by COVID-19.

Stuckey was sent to Elkins by General Jim Laster, CEO of Toy for Tots, after the two learned that the Elkins Marine Corps League would not be able to host the annual event this year because of COVID-related issues.

“It was important that I come to Elkins and meet personally with Mayor (Van) Broughton and (Elkins Police) Chief (Travis) Bennett and the rest of the community to ensure that Toys for Tots was supported this year,” said Stuckey. “Because of COVID this year is more important than any other year because over the last year these kids have been separated from their friends, their school, their normal activities, and all the other usual stress release activities they may have. So if there is a year to have Christmas it is this year.”

After working with local officials Monday and Tuesday, a plan was put in place to make sure this year’s Toys for Tots will go on as scheduled.

The distribution event will be held at the Phil Gainer Center in December. Randolph County Family Resource Network’s Tabitha Cook is going to help run the program and will be the lead coordinator for Randolph and the 10 surrounding counties. She will have the support of several local officials to make sure this year’s drive is a success.

Broughton said the City of Elkins was happy to help in any way possible and that he is positive that others in the community will lend a hand.

“We have some more organizations that are going to step up and help out,” he said. “We want to make sure that every kid in our community has a Christmas present. They all deserve to wake up to something on Christmas.”

“Mayor Van Broughton has been absolutely pivotal in his leadership and immediately ensured me that Toys for Tots would go off without a hitch,” he said. “The mayor linked me up immediately with Chief Travis Bennett and both of them are willing to do whatever it takes to make this year’s Toys for Tots a success. Without them, going forward would not have been possible. The town of Elkins is lucky to have both of them.”

Applications for children wishing to receive gifts from the Toys for Tots program can be found online at toysfortots.org. The cutoff day for applications will be Dec. 11. Donations can be made at the site as well.

“If people want to help and not put themselves around a bunch of people, they can donate on the website,” said Stuckey. “We take that money that’s donated online and go buy toys with it to distribute.”

Stuckey said with so many kids needing Christmas this year that hopefully the donations exceed last year’s totals of $1,800, which was down from the traditional fundraising amount of around $5,000.

For those wanting to donate toys, boxes are going to be placed at the Elkins Wal-Mart and Big Lots stores. Stuckey said he hopes to place more boxes at other locations as well.

“Marines Toys for Tots believes in this enough to send me here from the D.C. area to ensure this community has a Christmas,” Stuckey said. “And that’s how much General Laster believes in helping less fortunate children.”

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