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Campaign still collecting toys, food for needy

Donation pick up set for Dec. 18

POSTED: November 26, 2010 12:34 p.m.
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Participants in last weekend’s Toys for Tots bike ride and auction each donated $10 or a $10 toy to the campaign.

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Local Toys for Tots coordinators are still accepting toy donations for this year’s campaign to ensure that more than 2,000 children in Liberty County receive Christmas gifts.
Volunteers from the United Way of the Coastal Empire began soliciting donations in September. They’re collecting toys and have held several fundraisers to get everything in place for the Dec. 18 pick-up in the Hinesville Square Shopping Plaza, said Leah Poole, United Way area director.
“We haven’t had to empty anyone’s box yet, but people are going into the holiday season now so I think that will change soon,” Poole said of the 70 drop boxes that have been placed at businesses throughout the community.
Elaine Boggs, owner of Elaine Boggs Realty Group, said she expects the drop box at her office will fill up the closer it gets to Dec. 1.
“We did it last year too and we had it overflowing for the children,” Boggs said. “[But], it was closer to the holidays [that the box started to fill up].”
People can drop off gift donations and food items for Manna House at the realty office.
Boggs said she and her employees have contributed a few toys already. Over the years, she said, she has donated items to local charities, but didn’t realize the overwhelming need for simple necessities, such as food, until she drove past a long line of people waiting at the Manna House.
“It doesn’t need to happen,” Boggs said of Hinesville residents going hungry.
The realtor said her door is open Monday through Friday for anyone who wants to drop off donations. Boggs won’t accept money, though, just toys and canned goods.
Two fundraisers last weekend, a spaghetti dinner and motorcycle ride and auction, raised almost $3,000 to buy presents for the campaign.
“We more than tripled our riders this year and doubled the amount of money made. We had tons of volunteers show up to help from all over the community and lots of bike clubs, car clubs and social clubs,” Poole said. “For me and the rest of us who give so much to this effort, that was a true testament to the power of our community.”
The director said local families, Bradwell Institute students and Youth Challenge cadets also have been active in collecting toys and money for the campaign.
The Liberty County Toys for Tots chapter is part of the bigger U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Foundation, which is the most active and successful of the 717 chapters in the nation that work on the yearly toy drive, Poole said.
Since 1947, the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve 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.
As a final push for toys and donations, the group will host a day for adults only at Fort Stewart’s Corkan Family Recreation Center on Dec. 9. The cost is $10 or a new unwrapped toy valued at $10 in exchange for unlimited laser tag games, rock climbing and skating. Volunteers also will set up a table at Walmart on Dec. 4 to collect donations.
Although donation boxes in the community are still filling up, Poole said anonymous donations have been plentiful.
“To reach our goal, we’re going to need full boxes at every location. 
We have been lucky enough to get supplemental toys this year from the  foundation, which is very helpful, however, it will still take the effort of our community to make this happen,” she said.
In addition to Boggs’ office, donations can be made at the United Way office, Kroger, Michael’s Deli and other locations. All gifts must be unwrapped.
“For me, personally speaking, this is the best year I have ever had with Toys for Tots and it’s really a testament to our community to see how we are coming together for a common good — children and Christmas,” Poole said.
The economy has been hard on many residents’ finances, but the tough circumstances don’t seem to be affecting the community’s ability to give, Boggs said.
“It is really heart-warming to see how giving everyone has been despite the economy,” Boggs said. “I’m trying to make a difference somewhere, somehow. I’m not just concerned about my business, but about the people around this community… I was always taught to give to others … it just kind of stays inside you. That’s what this season is all about.”

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