USMC Reserve Toys For Tots 2008 campaign kicks off in Ascension

Staff reports

The U.S. Marine Corps Reserve in Ascension Parish is kicking off its 6th annual Toys for Tots campaign, which will run through Dec. 19.

During the next few weeks, several events will be held to raise awareness and funds for the children in Ascension Parish. For 61 years, the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve has been providing Christmas for kids nationwide through their Toys for Tots program.

“Many parish residents are still trying to rebuild their lives after Hurricanes Ike and Gustav,” said Parish Councilman Oliver Joseph, who serves as director for the Toys for Tots program in Ascension Parish. “There are more than 15,000 needy children in Ascension Parish that have already suffered enough devastation from the storms. It is my hope that this year’s campaign will bring toys and funding to help enable our children in the parish have a brighter Christmas.”

Each year the campaign’s main objective is to change the Marine Corps statistics through local toy collection campaigns. The toy drives will take place at Wal-Mart, Big Lots, K-mart and KB Toys Outlet stores, as well as, other locations. The Toys for Tots mobile storage container will be stationed at a central location.

“Our goal is to fill it with toys through the help and support of our local community,” Joseph said.

Last year, Joseph said, the program doubled its numbers by helping to provide and distribute toys to more than 3,000 children and more than 1,100 families.

“This year, we are looking forward to exceeding that number,” Joseph said.

Joseph, a retired  gunnary sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps, said he is especially fond of this program because he knows firsthand the difference this program has made in the lives of so many children.

“The U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program is dedicated to helping provide toys to needy children,” Joseph said. “The ultimate success depends on the support of the local community and the generosity of the people who donate toys, money, and/or time. All toys collected for the Toys for Tots campaign remain here in Ascension Parish.”

All local businesses in the parish will be sent information regarding the campaign. Members of the community can drop off new, unwrapped toys in collection boxes positioned at local businesses.

Additional toy drop-off locations include the following:

•  Dependable Storage-16068 Airline Hwy., Prairieville, across from the Post Office

•  GSA Inc – 1022 Purpera Rd., Gonzales.

•  Donaldsonville Fire Department - 700 Lafourche St., Donaldsonville

•  Ascension Parish Welcome Center - 6967 Hwy 22, Sorrento

Drop-off times are Monday-Friday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Coordinators will pick up the toys and store them in the central warehouse, where the toys will be sorted by age and gender.

Coordinators, with the assistance of local social welfare agencies, church groups, and other local community agencies, will distribute the toys to the needy children of the community at Christmas. Toy distribution will take place Dec.17-22.

According to Joseph, there are several ways the public can assist in the campaign, which include:

•  Making a corporate tax-deductible contribution for the purchase of toys.

•  Permitting the Marine Corps Reserve to use an organization/place of business as a collection point for toys.

•  Encourage employees to donate toys at Christmas parties

•  Volunteering time to assist with toy pickups and deliveries.

All non-profit organizations willing to submit applications for toy distribution must turn in a completed application by Dec. 10. Businesses and individuals seeking to get involved in this year’s Toys for Tots campaign can contact Joseph at 348-0254 or 473-9637 or fax 473-1900. Applications and/or information requests can also be mailed to P.O. Box 1065 Donaldsonville, LA 70347.

More information about the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program can be obtained by emailing APC-T4T@cox.net or visitng www.ToysForTots.org.

The U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots program is a 501-C3 non-profit agency.