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Bring in toys for area tots

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POSTED: November 15, 2010 2:34 p.m.
Since September, United Way of the Coastal Empire’s elves have been working hard collecting Christmas gifts for the tots of Liberty County.
“It is amazing how many people have stepped up,” United Way of the Coastal Empire Area Director Leah Poole said of the local Toys for Tots drive efforts.
The Liberty County chapter is part of the bigger U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots Foundation group and is the most active and successful out of the 717 chapters in the nation that work on the yearly toy drive, Poole said.
“That just shows the generosity of our community,” she said.
Last year, the group received enough donations and toys for 2,200 children and hopes to do the same again this year.
Since 1947, the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots Foundation has delivered toys to needy families to ensure children in the community will receive at least one gift on Christmas, according to a promotional video on the foundation’s website.
“The objectives of Toys for Tots are to help less fortunate children throughout the United States experience the joy of Christmas; to play an active role in the development of one of our nation’s most valuable resources — our children; to unite all members of local communities in a common cause for three months each year during the annual toy collection and distribution campaign; and to contribute to better communities in the future,” the website states.
The United Way of the Coastal Empire volunteers intend to do just that with the help of local organizers, volunteers and community members.
To benefit the local foundation, the Hinesville Masonic Lodge 271 will host a $5 spaghetti dinner, which includes salad and garlic bread, from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.  Friday, Nov. 19. Meals are for pick-up at the lodge, but free delivery is available for orders of five or more.
So far, 400 tickets have been sold for the dinner and the lodge hopes to sell 1,000 . Proceeds will go to the toy-buying fund, Poole said.  
Bikers also are encouraged to participate in raising awareness and money through a motorcycle ride and auction Saturday, Nov. 20. The ride will last between 20 and 40 minutes, Poole said, depending on the weather.
The route leaves from the Liberty County Recreation Department’s Stafford Pavilion and registration starts at 11 a.m. Bikers and riders are required to bring one new unwrapped toy or donate $10 to join in the ride.
In addition to motorcycles, cars and trucks are welcome. Riders are encouraged to wear Santa or Grinch costumes.
The ride, which ends around 1 p.m., will be followed by an auction that includes a family membership to the YMCA, gift items from Joy Marie’s Frame Gallery, golf packages and a certificate for a day of shooting clays at the Dorchester Club, among other items.
The Hinesville Home Center, Inc. is also pitching in to help raise funds for the toy drive this year by auctioning off a 2010 Arctic Cat 4-Wheeler with a Georgia Bulldog sticker wrap. Tickets are $10 each and the drawing will take place Dec. 23.
In addition to the week of upcoming fundraising events, local and national groups have stepped forward with monetary and gift donations.
Scholastic, a company dedicated to global children’s publishing and education, donated books for distribution during the drive.
“They sent us a good mix of all kinds of books,” Poole said. In order to receive the free book shipment, a United Way representative attends a conference in Washington, D.C. each year.
All items collected are age-appropriate and for those 17 and younger.  
“We provide Christmas for children,” said Poole. “We have become really good shoppers.”

 

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