ELKINS - A local organization is working to make this Christmas a bit more merry for area children than it otherwise would have been.
Chairman Roger Ware and The Elkins Marine Corps League is working in nine counties to gather up toys for their 11th annual "Toys For Tots" campaign.
"We do this because we love seeing the happiness people have when they receive the toys," Ware said.
The Inter-Mountain photo by Tim MacVean
Members of the Elkins Marine Corps League sort items for Toys For Tots at the Elkins-Randolph County Airport Tuesday. From left are Roger Ware, Elkins Marine Corps League chairman; Joe Bertelli and Harvey Gum, co-chairman.
Toys for Tots supplies toys to children and teens up to the age of 16 who would not have received any on Christmas. Collection boxes are set up at many area stores and businesses where the public can donate new, unused toys.
Some of these places include but are not limited to Kmart, CVS, Walgreens and Big Lots in the Elkins area as well as Dollar General and Family Dollar stores all across the region.
In addition to stores and businesses, local schools are getting in on the act. Robert L. Bland Middle School in Weston is having a competition to see which homeroom class can collect the most toys. The winner will be rewarded with a pizza party, supplied by Larry Haddix, owner of H&M Motors in Weston.
Tucker County High School is also holding a competition to see who can gather the most toys, with the winner being supplied a party by Performance Motors in Parsons and free day passes to ski at Cannan Valley Resort.
Families must pre-register to receive toys. Distribution of toys will take place from 9 a.m to 4 p.m. on Dec. 19 and 20 at the Elkins Randolph County Airport. Each family will be given a time to pick up the toys based on the first letter of the last name of the parent or guardian. Each child receives 4-6 toys with more going to younger age groups.
On average, the Elkins Marine Corps League provides for 2,000 children and helps 1,000 families in the region. They have been able to collect more than $12,000 in toys for this years event.
"We have fun doing this," said Ware. "It's the biggest project we do."
Toys for Tots was founded in 1947 by Major Bill Hendricks of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves in Los Angeles, Calif. A total of 5,000 toys were collected during a campaign before Christmas that year. The first toy given was a handmade doll. The next year, the US Marine Corp adopted the program and expanded it to a nationwide community action project.
The Toys for Tots now famous train logo and first national poster were created and donated to the organization by Walt Disney. The yearly posters have become a recognized part of the annual program the world over and have featured numerous famous Disney characters throughout the years.
Financial donations are accepted year round and can be mailed to PO Box 852, Elkins, WV 26241. For more information or to make arrangements to qualify for toy pickup you can call 304-636-8353 or 304-636-4365 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.