After Halloween, Kingman Toys for Tots program kicks into gear
KINGMAN - Don Olin has no other explanation than "It's a Marine Corps thing" to explain why Kingman Marine Corps League Detachment 887 collects toys every year for the annual Toys for Tots campaign.
For Olin, coordinator for the Northern Mohave County Toys for Tots drive, that simple sentence says it all. Collecting toys for children who may not receive a gift from Santa Claus without the assistance of Toys for Tots is just something U.S. Marines do to help their communities. Their motto of "Semper Fidelis," or "Always Faithful," certainly rings true for the area's kids.
The first 35 of 90 boxes that will be available for collection this year began showing up Oct. 1 in area industrial plants for employees to fill. More boxes will go into retail stores after Halloween and will be emptied each week or sooner until the campaign ends in December.
"This is something good we can do for the community," said Olin. "And we know we're making a difference in the lives of some of these children. It's like former President Ronald Reagan said - 'Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world. But the Marines don't have that problem.'"
Last year, the group collected enough toy and cash donations to provide a merry Christmas for about 3,200 local children, said Olin. Families with children up to 15 years old are eligible to sign up for the program. There are no income guidelines - those who feel they have a need are invited to register by calling (928) 718-8697.
The organization only accepts new, unwrapped toys, games, puzzles and stocking stuffers, said Olin. The toys can be dropped off in any of the Toys for Tots boxes that are scattered among area retailers, including Walmart, Walgreens, CVS, Kmart and local banks, car dealers and grocery stores. Or they and cash donations can be brought to the Kingman Toys for Tots office at 1900 Northern Ave., behind the Classy Chassis car wash.
Volunteers Mike and Cathy Breighner of Kingman are looking forward to helping ready toys for distribution for their second year. Mike Breighner, a member of the league, said they participate because Toys for Tots is a worthy cause and they don't get a chance to see their own grandchildren over the holidays because they live in another state.
"This project makes us feel good," he said. "Some of these kids don't get a Christmas because their families can't afford it. I think Toys for Tots makes a big difference to them. When you look around Kingman and the surrounding area, you can see that there's not a lot of money out there. Even if these kids don't get a Christmas tree this year, at least they'll get a gift."