DuBOIS — It’s that time of year when shoppers passing by a Toys for Tots donation box at local stores have the chance to make an area child smile on Christmas morning.
John Hibner, assistant coordinator for the Marine Corps League Toys for Tots of Clearfield/Jefferson counties, said MCL volunteers began distributing boxes to 110 locations in its coverage area this month.
TFT donation boxes can be located just about anywhere in DuBois, Hibner says, including Walmart, Martin’s, the VFW and American Legion and about five or six locations in the DuBois Mall. Toys must be unwrapped, unopened and brand new.
The MCL helps 1,647 children in Clearfield County, as well as Sykesville, Falls Creek and Brockway, have a smile on Christmas morning, Hibner said.
About four major fundraisers contribute to the toy collection each year, Hibner adds, including a radio day with Seven Mountains Media, the Pine Inn Restaurant and Lounge’s annual cornhole tournament, “Ladies Night” hosted by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Auxiliary and Walmart contributions.
About 20 former U.S. Marines volunteer their time to this effort, Hibner said.
“No matter the reason the parents can’t give their children gifts on Christmas, it’s not the child’s fault,” he said. “Every child deserves a Christmas.”
TFT of Clearfield/Jefferson counties supplies toys for children and youth up to age 13, Hibner says.
“When people see the (donation) boxes, they think of that little girl or boy on Christmas morning,” he said. “But, we struggle with getting things for the older kids.”
Some example of these gifts include jewelry, makeup, skateboards, footballs, watches or board games, Hibner said, excluding technology items, since some households may not have WiFi.
Volunteers aim to give each child four toys and two educational items, Hibner said, such as coloring or reading books or a trivia game.
The MCL takes the cash donations it receives and is able to buy the items at a discount from different vendors.
“Every dollar raised here, stays here,” he adds.
Starting the first week of December, each family has a scheduled time to pick up toys. Volunteers also deliver the toys to certain households that are unable to find transportation to the warehouse in Clearfield, Hibner said.