One-hundred and forty-seven of Santa’s helpers wrapped and handed out toys to parents and guardians Saturday during this year’s Toys for Tots toy distribution at the former Jordye Bacon Elementary School. The local program serves less-fortunate children in Liberty and Long counties.
“It’s been a really big blessing,” said Liberty County mom Christy, who did not feel comfortable giving her last name. Christy has three children between the ages of 5 and 11. She said her children would “have had a lot less,” if not for Toys for Tots.
Jennifer Darsey, director of the United Way of the Coastal Empire, Liberty office, coordinates the area’s Toys for Tots campaign, which falls under the U. S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program.
Darsey said 1,700 children were on this year’s distribution list, and more than 300 children were placed on a waiting list. Additional distributions will be held Monday and Tuesday. Any toys left over will go to children on the waiting list, she said.
“Every child got a minimum of four toys,” Darsey said. The local Toys for Tots raised $36,000 to buy 6,800 toys, “not including stocking stuffers,” she said.
Local businesses, community groups and individuals also donated toys to be distributed, the United Way director said.
“Our volunteers do all the fundraising,” Darsey said.
There were fewer children on the list this year, likely due to stricter application requirements, she said. Each child’s residence must be carefully verified, according to Darsey.