Article Contributed by
The Resource Center
The holidays will be a little brighter for more than 2,400 area children thanks to the efforts of The Resource Center and the generosity of the local community.
For the 17th straight year, The Resource Center will be coordinating the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve’s Toys for Tots drive in Chautauqua County. Started in 1947, Toys for Tots seeks to deliver a message of hope to less-fortunate children throughout the United States by providing them with toys for Christmas. More than 700 toy drives are held nation-wide each year.
The goal of the local toy drive is to collect enough toys to provide one large gift and one stocking stuffer to every child who is registered to receive assistance through Tots for Tots. Last year, more than 2,400 children in Chautauqua County received toys.
Though The Resource Center coordinates the toy drive each year, the project would not be successful without the community’s support. Collection boxes have been placed at more than 70 area locations, and people are encouraged to put new, unwrapped toys in the boxes. Boxes will remain at most locations until December 16. (A full listing of collection box locations can be viewed at http://jamestown-ny.toysfortots.org/local-coordinator-sites/lco-sites/donate-toys.aspx.)
Businesses that are not likely places for people to drop off toys can support the toy drive by placing a locked Toys for Tots money box at their location to accept cash donations, or by selling paper Toys for Tots trains – people can buy a train for $1, write their name on it and have the train displayed on the wall of the business. Cash contributions are important so that Toys for Tots organizers can go out and buy toys if there aren’t enough donated toys in specific age groups.
People planning to attend Jamestown’s holiday parade on December 2 are invited to place toys on the Toys for Tots float that The Resource Center will enter in the procession.
To make a monetary donation, send a check to The Resource Center, 200 Dunham Avenue, Jamestown, NY, 14701. Do not make checks payable to The Resource Center; instead, checks must be made payable to Toys for Tots.
Heather C. Brown, Assistant Executive Director at The Resource Center, and Terri Johnson, TRC’s Director of Employment and Community-Based Services, have helped lead TRC’s toy drive since the first one was held in 2000. Each year, they are overwhelmed by the community’s generous support of the toy drive, and they’re anticipating another successful campaign.
“This community steps up each year to support Toys for Tots and those less fortunate to help us bring smiles to the faces of so many children on Christmas morning,” said Brown.” We could not do what we do without the help of the many volunteers, donors, businesses and community groups who each do their part to ensure we meet our goals. We thank everyone and look forward to an amazing countdown ‘til Christmas.”
Families interested in registering their children to receive toys through Toys for Tots can do so in one of two ways. Families that are involved with area human-service organizations and after-school programs can have staff at those agencies submit an application on the family’s behalf.
Families that are not connected with a human-service agency can apply for toys in person at the following dates and places: in Dunkirk, at The Resource Center’s location at 186 Lake Shore Drive West, from noon to 3:00 Thursday, December 1; and in the Jamestown area, at The Resource Center administrative offices at 200 Dunham Avenue from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. Friday, December 2, and from 9:00 to noon Saturday, December 5. These are the only times that walk-in applications will be accepted.
Applicants must meet income criteria and bring proof of household income, as well as identification for adults and all children living in the household. Children from birth to age 17 living at home are eligible to receive toys.
Again this year, Allied Alarm Services in Falconer has offered to store the donated toys until they are distributed. Mike Roberts, Allied Alarm’s owner and president, is glad that his company can support Toys for Tots.
“I couldn’t be more happy to be part of this,” Roberts said. “To see the number of people they interacted with last year was absolutely overwhelming.”
He said the impact of the toy drive hit him last year when a woman and her family showed up in the parking lot of Allied Alarm, seeking assistance. The woman had recently moved back to the area and was down on her luck. Unable to provide Christmas gifts for her children, she had missed the Toys for Tots registration deadline and wondered if there was still an opportunity to receive toys. Brown and Johnson were able to provide the woman with gifts for her children, and Roberts said he was favorably impressed with the ability of the Toys for Tots organizers to assist the woman on short notice.
“It was the best part of my Christmas last year, being part of this organization,” he said.
He also thanked area residents for their generosity in supporting the toy drive, and he reminded people that every toy that is donated, and every hour that people volunteer to sort toys, makes a difference.
In addition to the good feeling that comes from donating toys to make the holidays merrier for a less-fortunate child, lots of people find joy in helping to sort the donated toys and prepare them to be distributed to families. Those interested in assisting with this year’s Toys for Tots drive can contact Johnson at 661-1433.