Sunday’s Christmas Parade may have been rained out, but the Toys for Tots campaign continues undampened.
For 32 years, Toys for Tots has participated in the Christmas parade which brings in 300 to 500 toys. Parade participants donate a gift as their fee and many of those watching also donate at staging areas or at the Belltower. However this year, for the first time in 35 years, the parade was cancelled because of the weather.
Sue Henderson and husband Hollis were on the parade route on Sunday when they heard it was being cancelled. They have coordinated the local Marine Corps League Detachment 697 Toys for Tots campaign for the last five years. “Not seeing those toys come in was horrible for us,” she said.
As they sat wet and glum in Starbucks nursing a coffee, Henderson said she took out her donation can, slammed it on the Starbucks counter and said, “go back and get me my toys for my kids!”
Immediately she started thinking of ways to get those gifts. At home after spending hours on the computer and sending e-mails to 100 people, she decided they needed to get the Belltower as a gathering place for taking in gifts.
So this weekend, Dec. 8 and 9 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Belltower, Toys for Tots will be there to accept your toy donations — rain or shine. Cash donations are also welcomed.
“We just want people who usually come to the parade to please come back,” Henderson said. “We know there are people out there with gifts. Please come and see us Saturday and Sunday at the Belltower. Shop downtown and make it meaningful for our merchants. Without them and their support, and the support of the City of Placerville staff and the Mountain Democrat, we wouldn’t be able to do this. It’s really important. Pay it forward.”
A marine tradition
Henderson said the Marines have been associated with the Toys for Tots since 1947. The local chapter partners with 9 to 10 other organizations including Kiwanis, Rotary and the Christian Motorcycle Association on the yearly toy drive.
“It’s important that kids know there’s a community that cares,” she said. “These kids are the citizens of tomorrow. Some of our volunteers received toys from this program when they were kids. Otherwise they wouldn’t have gotten any toys. It is a bridge experience and they talk about how much it meant to them.”
Last year the local group gave out 3,487 toys and this year it plans to give out the same or more. Henderson said to date, they have around 1,500 gifts. Toys are needed for boys and girls from birth to age 13. “Often stores will work with you if you tell them you’re buying for the Toys for Tots campaign. Big Lots has been very helpful in this way,” she said.
Besides the Belltower this weekend, donors can also drop off new toys at boxes stationed all over town including The Mountain Democrat, Walmart, KMart, Raleys, Thompson’s Toyota or GMC store, Cuppa Coffee & More, Kelsey’s Needle Krafts, River City Bank, and Arian’s Supply Sergeant. For other drop off points, people can go to the El Dorado County Toys for Tots Website at edct4t.org. Henderson can be contacted at 530-344-9384 or e-mail her at [email protected]
Families interested in receiving a toy need to register first at their local elementary or middle school in El Dorado County. Gifts will be given out Dec. 15 and 16 at Indian Creek School.
“The Marines are staking their flag on the Belltower this weekend to accept gifts,” she said.”It’s a time to give to the kids and also support the merchants downtown.”
Contact Dawn Hodson at 530-344-5071 or [email protected] Follow @DHodsonMtDemo on Twitter.