The Marine Reserve Toys For Tots campaign will have its first distribution of toys to local families in need on Saturday from 4-7PM at the Jacksonville American Legion. Local coordinator for the campaign Jim Crosier says that the event will be fun and may have a few surprises. Crosier says there will be plenty of toys and books for children to play with as well as aides from the Marine Reserves on hand. Crosier says that maybe a few characters from Paw Patrol and Santa himself may show up. He says that both are pretty busy this time of year.
Crosier said the program received over 2600 toys for over 1200 needy children in Morgan, Cass, and Scott counties last year. He says that there about 10 boxes to donate toys at local businesses. WLDS/WEAI Studios is currently one of the collections sites for toys if you would like to donate. He says there is still time to sign up for needy families online with an email address. He says that they are expecting less children. He said that as of today about 800 children have been signed up. He expects that number to grow to 1000 by the end of the holiday season.
The deadline to sign up is December 23rd. Crosier says that next week’s event on Saturday, December 14th from 4-7PM at the Community Park Center will be smaller. He says that parents should just come to pick up toys. He says that this weekend’s event kicks off several smaller distribution events throughout the area. He is hoping that local businesses will call to solicit him for a distribution event for families. He hopes to have the majority of toys collected and distributed by Christmas Eve. He says that Santa and the Marine Corps will be sending some extra help in the days leading up to Christmas to ensure toys get delivered on time.He says that the Jacksonville Marine recruiter has said that local recruits who have recently graduated from boot camp as well as Marines home on leave would step in to help make sure that parents receive their toys before Christmas Day. Crosier says he is laser focused on the logistics of delivering toys to everyone who has signed up this year right now.
There are two cellphone numbers to contact Crosier to sign up for the program either by call or text at 217-319-9562 or 217-697-7203. He says having an email is necessary to receive updates in the sign-up process.
Toys For Tots was started by Marine reservist Major Bill Hendricks in 1947 in Los Angeles, California. In 1995, the Toys For Tots campaign became an official mission of the Marine Corps Reserve to make sure that children have a toy on Christmas.