The local Toys for Tots committee raised more than $10,000 in cash and countless toy donations for 2010. More than 200 volunteers, who helped from August until December, delivered toys to more than 2,300 children on Saturday. The committee placed more than 70 donation boxes in local businesses, including Liberty Chrysler, Hinesville Ford, NeSmith Chevrolet, the Coastal Courier, the Hinesville Masonic Lodge and Beall’s. Beall’s allowed the committee to use its old building, utilities and security system rent-free for two months.
“It is amazing to see our community pull together for something like this and know that without us of all working together, there are children who would not have Christmas. It really makes you realize how much something little makes a big difference,” said Leah Poole, United Way of the coastal Empire Liberty Chapter executive director and Liberty County Chamber of Commerce interim director.
The local Toys for Tots committee, several area businesses and community groups sponsored a number of fundraisers leading up to Saturday’s giveaway, such as a spaghetti dinner, a motorcycle ride and an auction.
From Dec. 1-15, NeSmith Chevrolet Buick GMC in Claxton hosted a “Facebook FunRaiser,” donating a toy in honor of every new person who “liked” the dealership’s Facebook page. Dealer principal Demere NeSmith created the “FunRaiser,” which raised $36,718 worth of toys.
“Our hearts are filled with such joy knowing that thousands of children will receive a Christmas gift this year from our efforts. Thank you to everyone that participated in the Facebook community,” NeSmith said.
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.
“Our volunteers this year have been truly amazing. Without them, this project would never come to fruition. It literally takes hundreds of hours to distribute, collect, sort and pack these toys, not to mention on distribution day running, helping, wrapping, etc. Even my grandma, at almost 75 years of age, gets out there and wraps from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. to do her part,” she said.