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Toys for Tots makes plea for help

By Staff | Dec 17, 2015

Synonymous with Christmas, Toys for Tots has been collecting and distributing new toys to eligible families for the Christmas season since its inception in 1947, and is run by the United States Marine Corps Reserve. The program, started by Major Bill Hendricks, USMCR, became so popular after 5,000 toys were collected the first year, that it gained nationwide acclaim. Walt Disney even designed the now-famous Toys for Tots train logo.

The Eastern Panhandle chapter of Toys for Tots has had a strong presence in the Panhandle since its establishment in 2006, distributing toys to some 6,000 families each year.

However, this year Toys for Tots is making a plea for more toys.

“We’re running dangerously low on toys,” said Toys for Tots regional Eastern Panhandle coordinator, Paul Turner.

Turner’s region consists of nine counties in West Virginia.

“We’ve distributed toys to all the other counties and all we have left are Berkeley and Jefferson,” said Turner.

Turner explained, “Each child in an eligible family will receive two age-appropriate toys, stocking stuffers, and a puzzle or game for the family to enjoy together. We still need toys for about 700 families.”

Turner also said that girl toys were the bigger need at this time.

Shepherdstown has several depositories for toys, such as the police station, Dollar General, Brown’s Auto Center and other shops throughout town.

The Shepherdstown Opera House has hosted an annual gathering of Star Wars characters for the past five years to draw attention to the toy drive.

Popular Star Wars characters paraded up and down German Street on Saturday, posing for pictures and delighting children and adults alike, prior to a 1 p.m. showing of “Return of the Jedi.”

Anyone who brought a toy would receive free admission to the movie, chosen due to the the big release of the next installment in the series, “Star Wars, Episode VII, The Force Awakens.”

Toys will continue to be collected until Dec. 20 at any drop off location. For more information on where to bring a new, unwrapped toy, or to make a monetary donation online, visit www.toysfortots.org and click the ‘Find Local Toy Drop Off Location’ tab or mail a check to Toys for Tots 222 M-B, N. Raleigh Street, Martinsburg, WV 25401