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Toys for Tots kicks off in Jones County

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    Shana Brooke and Mayor Ed Barbee ready to collect funds for Toys for Tots.

Toys for Tots in Jones County had their kickoff with Marine Corps Detachment 970 at Ingles and Ace Hardware on Labor Day to help get donations for underprivileged children for Christmas.

Shana Brooke, the coordinator for Jones County Toys for Tots, said people aren’t thinking about toys for Christmas yet, but the funds given during Labor Day will help with purchasing toys. She said any amount donated helps.

“Toys for Tots is a non-profit organization that collects toys and money to serve children who would not have a Christmas gift otherwise,” she said. “Their whole goal is that every child deserves a smile at Christmas.”

According to Marine Corps Association and Foundation, the Toys for Tots program started in 1947, when Marine Corps Reserve Major Bill Hendricks’ wife, Diane, made a doll.

Brooke said there was no organization for them to give the doll to, so they started up Toys for Tots. It began with homemade gifts and progressed to unwrapped gifts and monetary donations.

“We know it’s early in the year, but we felt this would get everyone’s mind in the process that Christmas is coming up. We don’t want to spring Toys for Tots on people at the last minute because they may not be able to donate in December,” Brooke said.

She said we need Toys for Tots in Jones County because the county doesn’t have many resources to help out children who may not get a Christmas. She said the organization really focuses on the toy part of Christmas.

“We need Toys for Tots now more than ever because of the pandemic going on,” the coordinator said. “People are out of work and kids are at home more, so it puts a lot of stress on families. This is a good time for us to really help families.”

The coordinator said if people want to donate, they can call her at 478-234-3842, email at gray.ga@toysfortots.org, or visit https://gray-ga.toysfortots.org. She said all of the money raised in Jones County, stays in Jones County.

“Any amount is going to help. It’s great to help others in our own community, plus residents can teach their kids what it means to give back at Christmas by donating or volunteering,” she said.

Brooke said they will need volunteers at the warehouse as it gets closer to Christmas. She said volunteers will help unpack gifts, sort gifts and pack bags for families.

“I think people should volunteer because it takes a community effort to get the toys to the kids,” the coordinator said. “It’s not limited to the Marine Corps either. It’s an entire community event to help give back.”

The coordinator said applications for Toys for Tots will open Oct. 1 and the cut off for them is Dec. 7, so all the toys are packed and ready to go by Christmas time. She said the earlier applications are in, the better. She said what people can do now is get the word out that the organization is beginning just like last year.

“My favorite thing about Toys for Tots is seeing the community come together over a cause like this,” she said. “When applications start coming in, I get frantic, but by the end we always have more than enough donations. It’s great to see Jones County rally around a wonderful cause.”