Next to rows of brand new, shiny Harley-Davidson motorcycles sat three giant boxes, overflowing with every kind of toy imaginable: Soccer balls. Stuffed animals. Remote-controlled cars. Barbie dolls. Hot Rods.
Toys for Tots wrapped up collection week at Paris Harley-Davidson on Saturday, inviting people to donate toys and “adopt” a child by picking their name off an angel tree at one of more than 40 sites.
“We have more angels this year than we have had before,” Rhoades said. “Our goal is to raise $10,000. As far as toys go, our goal is 5,000.”
The toy drive featured live music from Rue 82, face-painting by Prairiland students, free lunch and a visit with Santa. Volunteers will bag and tag toys this week, and distribution will be Dec. 18 at Salvation Army, Rhoades said.
“Whatever angels do not get adopted off the Salvation Army tree, we come in and supplement and make sure every kid is going to have a Christmas,” she said.
Many local partners and businesses have worked with Salvation Army to make the toy drive a success, Rhoades said. Monetary donations have been used to purchase more gifts for children, including more than $6,000 from Paris Skeet and Trap Club, Ameriprise Financial, Callaway families, Blossom Telephone and Hardware. Toys will also be given to local law enforcement officers and social workers that they can distribute while working hard calls with children, Rhoades said.
Assistant coordinator Richard McIntire said the nonprofit is looking for volunteers to help bag and tag all the collected toys. To volunteer, contact Rhoades at email@example.com.
Toys for Tots is run by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. The charity was started in 1947 by Marine Corps Reservist Bill Hendricks and a group of other reservists in Los Angeles. In the charity’s first year, Hendricks was able to donate approximately 5,000 presents to needy children.
Hendricks’s efforts were so popular that the following year, the Marine Corps adopted Toys for Tots as an official project and expanded it into a nationwide campaign. Today, the organization has more than 700 locations across all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
At the end of the day, the goal is to make sure every child has a good Christmas, Rhoades said.
“The economic standpoint in the home is not the kid’s fault — the parent might have got laid off, just gone through financially hard times. It’s the time of year for giving and giving back,” she said. “We just want to make sure our Marine Corps league and Salvation Army puts a smile on every kid’s face.”