Donation boxes have popped up all over Venango County for the annual Toys for Tots campaign, and organizers are hoping for another successful year.
The Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots programs and collection and distribution sites have become a familiar element of the Christmas holiday landscape. Locally, the program has continued to grow, and this year’s distribution will start at 9 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 17, at the Oil City VFW.
“Last year we were able to help 400 children in the county,” said Barb Plummer, an organizer of the Venango County drive. “Our goal is to help as many people as possible. We want to help people who are truly in need.”
Even though the campaign is expected to grow, organizers urge those planning to register that there is no need to worry about a shortage of toys.
“There’s no need to camp out and wait, we’ll be there all day,” said Plummer. “We won’t run out of bags of toys. We will make sure we have enough for everyone.”
Plummer added that when parents fill out the registration paperwork they should include a special request if the child has one.
“We can’t promise, but we will try to get that special toy for them,” she said.
Apart from the normal requests for toys and monetary donations, the organizers are looking for two things – volunteers to help with organizing the toys and black garbage bags to transport the toys.
The garbage bags are used to transport the toys from the distribution centers to the families’ homes to ensure children don’t see their presents before Christmas morning.
“We’d love to have more volunteers going forward,” said Plummer.
Plummer added that she believes the need for donations for the Toys for Tots program is much greater than people may realize.
“It takes a lot to ask for help, but people should feel free, that’s why we’re here,” said Plummer. “Some area businesses have closed this year, and if those employees are parents we want them to come get help if they need it.”
To register a child, people can call (724) 841-0431 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays by Nov. 30. A parent’s photo identification and child’s birth certificate will be required to pick up toys.
Toys are for children ages newborn through 12, and they will be collected through Dec. 1.