Government shutdown may hurt Toys for Tots
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — The federal government shutdown may mean that local Marines won’t be in uniform during this year’s Toys for Tots campaign, but the organization’s local site coordinator said he’s working hard to make sure children have toys under the Christmas trees.
“We’re going to do our best to help the kids this year with Toys for Tots,” said Louie Sandoval of Marine Corps League, 1075 Fulton Detachment.
The fundraising campaign kicked off Oct. 1 and toys will be collected until Dec. 10.
Community relations activities like Toys for Tots are not among the functions exempted during the shutdown, according to a Marine Corps statement.
Sandoval said he fears the lack of uniformed Marines could hurt donations.
“I think it will probably impact it pretty hard,” he said. “People like seeing the Marines out there in their dress blues helping the community. I really hope it doesn’t come to that, but that’s what it’s looking like right now,” he said.
Last year the fundraiser helped 10,000 to 12,000 children in the area, Sandoval said.
Sandoval, who oversees the collection in Forsyth, Stokes and Yadkin counties, said he will try to have some retired Marines in uniform at collection areas if the shutdown continues.
This year, Toys for Tots is partnering with the Salvation Army of Winston-Salem to help distribute the toys to children who need them most.
Ellen Bliven, a spokeswoman for the Salvation Army, said the lack of uniformed Marines could have an impact on collections, but she remained hopeful that the community will help make up the difference.
“Toys for Tots has been a great partner for us and we’re hopeful it doesn’t have to come to that,” she said. “If it happens we won’t get as many toys were so early in the season, but at this point we have plenty of time to make that up with other toy drives. We’re hopeful that this community will rally around the need.”
Several drop-off locations have already been set up at local businesses, Sandoval said.
Those interested in donating or volunteering can check the website http://winston-salem-nc.toysfortots.org for drop-off sites. Monetary donations can also be made.
In addition to these locations, Toys R Us will be starting its 10th annual Toys for Tots campaign on Wednesday.
From Wednesday until Dec. 8, Toys R Us and Babies R Us stores nationwide will collect new, unwrapped toys for Toys for Tots. Monetary donations will be collected through Christmas Eve.
Mitchell Lawson, a department supervisor at Babies R Us on Hanes Mall Boulevard, said having Marines outside helps with getting donations.
“Those boxes will go from sitting completely empty, then the day we post a Marine or two for an eight hour shift, they’ll be packed to the brim,” he said. “When people see the Marine Corps … it gets their attention a lot more than the box.”
Lawson said he hopes the government shutdown will end before it impacts Toys for Tots.
“I’d love to see the government work together to help these kids out,” he said.
Sandoval agreed and said he is working hard to ensure that toys will still be delivered.
He encouraged the community to contribute.
“It’s for the kids that aren’t able to receive anything on Christmas,” he said. “It brings cheer to their eyes to be able to open something on Christmas.”
By Carson Capshaw-Mack/Winston-Salem Journal