More Toys, Please: Toys For Tots Sees Greater Need This Year

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Photo By Gary Krambeck, Courtesy of the Dispatch

The need for donations to the local Toys for Tots campaign is even greater this year, according to organizers.

U.S. Marine Corps Quad City Toys For Tots coordinators Staff Sgt. Robert Dennis and Staff Sgt. Gene Costello said they expect to provide toys for about 10,000 area children this holiday season, up from 7,300 last year.

The Corps began registering families on Nov. 1. After five days, more than 400 had signed up.
“That is ahead of where the numbers typically are,” said Staff Sgt. Dennis. “The good news is, people are aware of (our program) and are willing to swallow a little bit of their pride to make sure their children are happy.”

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Staff Sgt. Costello attributes the increase to the lagging economy and summer floods. Toys For Tots tries to give three to four toys per child. So far, only about 3,000 have been collected — less than a tenth of what it wants to distribute.

“This is a very generous community. We know the need is going to be huge this year,” Staff Sgt. Dennis said, adding the area always comes through.

When he got involved with Toys For Tots 13 years ago, the local effort provided toys for 2,300 children. In 1996, it about doubled, and since then, the numbers have climbed.

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Staff Sgt. Dennis said people of every age get involved in the drive. Many middle school and high school groups gather donations. This year, they’ve also talked to two Cub Scout groups.
Recently, a 9-year-old boy donated all the toys he received for his birthday. A couple getting married this month is asking guests to bring toys for the drive instead of gifts, Staff Sgt. Costello said.

Brad Baltzell, director of the Tudi’s Tribe Foundation, which raises money for children’s causes, said the organization is giving $500 to the toy drive. “If you have ever been there when the Marines pass out toys, the smiles are worth it all,” he said.

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Staff Sgt. Costello said donations stay in the community; every monetary and toy donation benefits children within about a 50-mile radius.

“A lot of people are fortunate. A lot are not as fortunate,” Staff Sgt. Dennis said. “If you are fortunate, you can help out others and put a smile on a kid’s face.”

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Quick facts about Toys For Tots:

• Donations of new unwrapped toys for the U.S. Marine Corps Quad City Toys For Tots may be delivered at any of 300 area drop boxes or the warehouse at 2390 Cumberland Square, Bettendorf.

• Donation events appear online at www.qctoysfortots.org. The site soon will have a list of all drop-off locations as well. Monetary donations, with checks made out to Toys For Tots, may be sent to NOSC Building 247, Rock Island Arsenal, Rock Island, IL, 61299.

• The greatest need is for toys for girls and boys ages 10 to 12, and girls ages 6 to 9. Children up to age 12 can receive toys.

• Parents wanting to sign up their children for toys can go to the Toys For Tots warehouse from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays through Sundays, with the exception of Nov. 28 when the office will be closed.

• Sign-up deadline is Dec. 14. Parents must bring a picture identification, Social Security card, proof of address, phone number and children’s birth certificates or medical cards showing a date of birth.
For more details, call (563) 441-7588.

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