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Toys for Tots extends collection to meet needs

POSTED: December 7, 2011 9:39 a.m.
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United Way Liberty Advisory Board member David Sapp, left, joins Mike Reed Chevrolet owner Mike Reed, LCSS Superintendent Dr. Judy Scherer and United Way 2011-12 campaign Chairman Tony Burns in showing off a $1,000 check made to Toys for Tots.

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With Santa’s home visits drawing nearer, “elves” throughout the community are continuing a final push to make this year’s Toys for Tots drive an all-encompassing success.

Though the donation deadline initially was set for Monday, program coordinators have extended the drop-off times through at least Friday, according to “Santa’s Toy Keeper” John Scherer, who also is a member of the United Way Liberty Advisory Board.

“We’re collecting through Friday at least. This week will be a big push,” he said. “It’s faring very well for the year. It’s better than last year, but we’re still short of what we need. We have 1,100 military families.”

More than 3,300 families applied to receive gifts this year, he added. 

On Monday morning, Scherer and a team of toy collectors loaded more than 70 items collected through Elaine Boggs Realty Group into a moving truck provided by the company. It is one of many stops he’ll make this week, and Scherer has been carrying items to the secret storage center almost daily for a number of weeks, he said.

This is the second year Elaine Boggs has participated in the drive, and she kicked up her efforts through community involvement, she said. They began collecting toys in October when a client provided a baby doll.

Many other clients brought in toys as well, and the group held a public barbecue where attendees received a meal in exchange for their toy donations, Boggs said. Her staff and members of the Hinesville Area Board of Realtors also contributed.

“It’s just a combination of everybody pitching in — all the agents and the people associated with the real estate industry, as well as customers and clients coming in,” Boggs said. “We’ve got board games, we’ve got dolls, we’ve got skateboards — we’ve got things here for children of all ages. It’s just amazing.”

Standing amid a pile of toys and five bicycles, Boggs reflected on her motivation for joining the efforts.

“It’s just always been in my heart. I grew up, and I was so lucky — I had a great childhood and wonderful toys under the tree, and I just can’t imagine some of these families waking up and Christmas morning is just another day,” she said.

“For everybody to open up their hearts and their checkbooks to donate for children who otherwise wouldn’t have a Christmas, this just can make someone’s day. I just can’t imagine a child waking up for Christmas and not having something there. It’s very sad, and it doesn’t have to happen.”

Still, the organization is running short of toys for infants and teens, Scherer said.

Before distributing the toys Dec. 17 at the Liberty County Schools Performing Arts Center, coordinators and a team of volunteers will allocate the toys according to each child’s age and gender. They also will try to take wish lists into account, Scherer said.

Knowing that teens often are overlooked, Mike Reed Chevrolet opted to make a cash contribution to the effort in lieu of collecting toys, owner Mike Reed said. That way, coordinators can purchase items where the demand is larger than the supply.

“We wanted to do something that would maybe help ensure that some of the older kids are not forgotten. They’re old enough that they’ll remember that someone remembered them,” Reed said.

Toys for Tots and United Way are organizations that allow him to see the results of his gifts right within the community, he added.

He also issued a challenge: To any donor or company that gave $1,000, he would match their donation.

While he could not give specifics Monday about the number of people who met the challenge, Scherer and his wife, Liberty County School System Superintendent Dr. Judy Scherer, had risen to the occasion.

“We have both seen enough needs to be met and have worked hands-on for many years to fill volumes in the book of life that everyone should be reading,” John Scherer said about the donation.

“It’s just one of the ways that we give back to the community,” Judy Scherer said.

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