The Marines are always looking for a few good men, but they are seeking more than a few toys this Christmas — 3,000-plus to be exact.
That is the goal for the annual Toys for Tots program of Surry County Detachment 1322 of the Marine Corps League, which has led the charitable effort locally since being chartered in December 2008.
Since then, participation has grown steadily, according to June Abbott, the county coordinator for Toys for Tots. After only about 500 toys were received in 2009, the total jumped to 2,134 in 2010 and last year 2,251 toys were distributed.
“We emphasize that whatever we do in Surry County stays in Surry County,” Abbott said of the most important thing people should know about the toy collection that’s part of a large-scale effort resulting in 15 million toys per year.
“So many people think the toy they give here is going to end up in California,” added Abbott, whose husband Todd leads the local group. He is a Purple Heart recipient who served with the U.S. Marines in Vietnam, where he lost a hand. He heads the local Marine Corps League.
“They’re trying to be preservers of the peace,” Elizabeth Martin, another local resident involved with Toys for Tots, said of the core mission of the Marines, with which her husband Gregg also served.
“But at the same time they’re gentle human beings and they care for those they protect — and they have a soft spot for children,” Martin said.
Toys for Tots was established by the Marine Corps Reserve in 1947. Originally reservists fixed up toys and re-gifted them to children who were in need. Later, the Marine Corps and the Marine Corps League joined the reservists to distribute millions of toys annually nationwide, which must be donated new and unwrapped.
The primary goal of Toys for Tots is to deliver a message of hope to less-fortunate youngsters which will assist them in becoming responsible, productive and patriotic citizens, according to the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation Web site.
Surry County Detachment 1322 of the Marine Corps League includes both those who have served with that branch of the military in addition to associate members who include the general public.
“Right now, we have 44 members,” Martin said. “The majority of our folks are former Marines.”
Surry Collection Sites
Toys are being received at more than 30 locations across the country this month and during December.
Containers to donate money are also located in some local businesses. All funds collected are used to buy more toys for distribution in Surry.
In the Mount Airy area, sites with collection boxes include:
• Mount Airy Animal Medical Services, at 1233 W. Lebanon St.;
• Behavioral Services, 2342 S. Main St.;
• Blevins Building Supply at 2106 W. Pine St.;
• First Baptist Church on North Main Street;
• Maple Grove United Methodist Church, 941 Maple Grove Church Road;
• Mayberry Toy Company, 259 N. Main St.;
• Mount Airy Foot and Ankle, 1908 Caudle St., Suite 103;
• Mountain Valley Hospice, 401 Technology Lane, Suite 200;
• The Surrey Bank administration building on North Renfro Street;
• Scenic Ford on U.S. 601;
• TNT Carports’ corporate office on U.S. 52-South;
• The county Veterans Services Office, located in Suite 700 of the Surry County Human Services Center at 1218 State St.;
• Walgreens at 2069 Rockford St.;
• Mount Airy Yamaha, 1995 Rockford St.;
• Ruby Tuesdays on Rockford Street.
In Dobson, toys can be taken to:
• Burger King at 120 N. Main St.;
• Surry-Yadkin Electric Membership Corp., 510 S. Main St;
• Woltz Hospice Home, 945 Zephyr Road.
Pilot Mountain drop-off sites include:
• Cousin Gary’s Family Restaurant at 626 S. Key St.;
• CVS Pharmacy, 204 W. Main St.;
• Dollar General, 650 S. Key St.;
• Kevin Powell’s Foothills Ford, 3220 Cook School Road;
• Kritter Kuts, 101 W. Main St.;
• Mountain View Restaurant, 701 S. Key St.;
• Charles H. Stone Memorial Library, 319 W. Main St.;
• The Shell service station at 703 E. U.S. 52-Bypass;
• Southern Community Bank, 616 S. Key St.;
• Surrey Bank & Trust, 653 S. Key St.;
• Tweet & Company Hair Studio, 129 W. Main St.
Elkin locations include Walgreens at 1209 N. Bridge St. and Weyerhaeuser at 184 Gentry Lane.
Multiple Agencies Involved
The collected toys are stored at a Mount Airy warehouse facility for sorting and packaging later by members of the Marine Corps League.
Each child receives at least three toys, Martin said, which includes efforts to supply items that youngsters have requested for Christmas.
She said it’s important to generate as many toys as possible through the outreach effort to ensure young people won’t be neglected at Christmas.
Toys will be distributed this year through The Salvation Army in Mount Airy; Friends Feeding Friends at First Baptist Church in Mount Airy, which represents a new affiliation to reach as many children as possible; and Pilot Mountain Outreach Center.
A few families that contacted the Marine Corps League directly through its Web site will receive toys as well.
The address for the Web site is http://mount-airy-nc.toysfortots.org<http://mount-airy-nc.toysfortots.org/
Abbott also can be contacted at (336) 320-4044 for more information.
“It’s a good program,” Martin said.
Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or email@example.com.