UPDATE: Toys for Tots helps over 10,000 kids for Christmas
The Marine Corps annual Toys for Tots program is spreading holiday cheer throughout several communities this year. Organizers tell Channel 3 they wrapped up their final push before kids receive your donations.
UPDATE: Sergeant Donovan B. Walters tells Channel 3 that Toys For Tots helped 10, 569 kids, up significantly from 2015's number of 5,901 children.
PREVIOUS STORY: The Marine Corps annual Toys for Tots program is spreading holiday cheer throughout several communities this year.
Organizers tell Channel 3 they wrapped up their final push before kids receive your donations.
Local Marines have been collecting donated toys from 133 regional drop-off points for several months leading up to the big distribution day.
Waves of volunteers helped bag, box and organizes loads of toys by age and gender at the organizations, warehouse on East Main Street over the weekend to ship to several non-profit organizations, which will be responsible for distributing them to between at least 7,000 children.
Last year the campaign was able to provide toys for 5,901 children.
Sgt. Donovan Walters, this year's Toys for Tots coordinator, said each child will receive three toys, a stuffed animal and a stocking.
"What's funny is that now I'm still kind of scrambling just to make sure I have enough toys, because I told every non-profit get me more kids; asked for more kids and I will deliver and we're gonna be able to hit mission it's gonna be really good," said Walters.
Walter tell Channel 3, he personally asked to lead the local operation this year, which is part of the national Toys for Tots nonprofit organization run by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. He said being part of the process is what he values most.
"I know what it's like to wake up without Christmas. Quite a few times I've been there," said Walters. "No kid deserves to go through that. No kid deserves to kind of wake up without that, so it's good to do my part and make sure kids don't have to go through what I went through."
First-time volunteer and Marine veteran, Don Gilbreath agrees.
"It's the time of year that you wanna do something for somebody else. It always more fun to buy presents for other people instead of just receiving them," Gilbreath said. "This is an opportunity that you have to assist the Marines in getting these toys to all these kids. They won't know anything about me when they get the toy, but I'll feel better about it."
It's that type of generosity Walters credits for the drive's success.
"I've never had to turn away volunteers before, but even then they just wanna help. They wanna make a difference. That's how we're able to do this. It's not the Marine corps specifically . It's not me Sergeant Walters. It's the community," said Walters.
The toys will be shipped to the non-profit organizations Tuesday. If you know of anyone or a non-profit in need of toys, call 423-362-0608 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.