With so many families barely scraping by due to Covid-19, Christmas presents for their children this year is pretty far down on the list of priorities. This where The Marine Corps League’s Toys for Tots program fills the gap. Every Christmas season, starting in November the Marines hold their annual toy drive and this year the need is even greater and the challenges are greater too.
To kick off their campaign, the Spring Hill Marine Corps League 708 decided to do something different. With the help of the Army National Guard, Marine Corps Recruiters, Hernando County Sheriff’s Office, Always Faithful Moving, Jackson Rents, Walmart and other businesses, they held a 24-hour toy drive from noon Saturday, November 21st to noon the next day.
The event took place in the parking lot of Weeki Wachee Springs State Park. With plenty of coffee to fuel them, volunteers accepted unwrapped gifts from people as they drove by in their vehicles. The volunteers filled several vans with toys that will go to children who might not otherwise receive presents.
As the demand for toys has increased, the supply this year has dwindled. Plus, due to Covid restrictions some businesses have been hesitant to allow donation boxes at their location. However, people wanting to give to the Toys for Tots drive can still drop off presents to a number of places. For information on these locations click on the following link: https://spring-hill-fl.toysfortots.org Then in the top menu, click on “Ways to Donate” under this drop-down menu click on “Donate a Toy.”
José Infante, retired Marine Corps Master Sergeant, coordinator of this year’s drive stated, “I’d like to make special mention of Five Below [a local retailer]. They have been promoting this like crazy. I go there every other day and pick up three 40-gallon bags of toys.”
Infante continued, “We hope to have a surplus of toys so that if the need arises throughout the year because of some emergency or disaster like a house fire, we can step in and provide toys for the children.”
If you prefer to make a monetary contribution you can do so online at www.toysfortots.org. Click on the tab that says “Find your local campaign.” Type in “Florida” in the search box and then use the pull-down menu to find Hernando County.
So far more than 2,100 children are registered to receive toys. Parents who want to register their child or children email [email protected]. The deadline to register is December 8th.
Last year the local Toys for Tots campaign distributed 25,110 toys. This year that number may be lower, but Marine Corps League 708 is determined, with the help of Hernando County citizens and businesses, to ensure that Santa pays a visit to as many children as possible.