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Help bring smiles to Jones County

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Help bring smiles to Jones County

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Joe Barbee and Toys for Tots coordinator Shana Johnson stand outside of Ingles on Labor Day to collect donations.

Toys for Tots is accepting donations for underprivileged children in Jones County and had their first kickoff on Labor Day by taking in donations at Ingles and Ace Hardware.

Shana Johnson, the coordinator for Jones County and Baldwin County Toys for Tots, said this is the second year the foundation is in Jones County and they want to make it just as successful as last year.

“Toys for Tots ia a national foundation, and its main goal is to provide toys to every child at Christmas time,” she said. “The goal is that every child deserves a smile at Christmas. It started out years ago with a lady making a homemade doll and wanting to give it to an underprivileged child.”

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. Johnson 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.

Mayor Ed Barbee, who is the Jones County chairman of Toys for Tots and Marine Corps Leader of Detachment 970, said he wants to see children with a satisfying Christmas this year all across Jones County.

“The Marine Corps started Toys for Tots,” he said. “It’s one of our projects that we do. Our detachment said we’d be happy to do it because we don’t want any children left out.”

Johnson said applications for Toys for Tots will be open on Oct. 1 and the cut off for them is Dec. 1, so all the toys are packed and ready to go by Christmas time. She said the earlier applications are in, the better. She said last year they were able to help 135 families.

“The community really stepped up last year for us. We were able to do a toy drop off in Jones Crossing and Baker’s Acres,” the coordinator said. “We hope we can do something like that again, but we don’t know what community we will do it in yet, it’s a surprise.”

For people who want to help out in some form, Johnson said they can donate through https://www.facebook.com/jonescountytoysfortots/ or https://gray-ga.toysfortots.org/local-coordinator-sites/lcosites/default.aspx.

The coordinator said people in the community can buy any type of toy and spend as much as they want on the item. She said if people are considering buying a toy, they would appreciate toys for children in the 12 to 15 age range because it’s the least donated for.

“All money raised in Jones County stays in Jones County. It benefits a Jones County family only, not any other county. We have a lot of underprivileged children here in Jones County, so we want to help out and make sure there’s no child without a toy on Christmas,” the chairman said.

Johnson said what she likes about helping Toys for Tots is seeing the children get a gift that they really wanted. She said she and the mayor hope that with community’s help they can help as many children this Christmas as possible.

“Even though people are paying their bills on time, there may not be anything leftover for that extra special Christmas gift,” Johnson said. “We want to give every child a smile at Christmas.”