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Toys for Tots of the Eastern Panhandle
My name is Paul Turner and I am the regional coordinator for the Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots of the Eastern Panhandle. I am writing this column to thank everyone who is helping us this year and to clear up some misconceptions.
Toys for Tots of the Eastern Panhandle was chartered by the Marine Corps Reserve in 2007. Our direction was to run a campaign in Berkeley, Jefferson, and Morgan Counties. The next year we had Hardy, Hampshire, Grant and Mineral counties added to our list – giving us coverage of the entire Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia. We cover this area with a group of volunteers from the Marine Corps League, the American Legion Ladies Auxiliary, and other community volunteers. No one gets paid, and everyone donates a lot of time and effort to our cause.
Toys for Tots has one goal – to do its best to ensure that every child has toys for Christmas. We do this through collecting toys and funds throughout the Panhandle, supplementing those toys from the Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots foundation and, in addition, frequently reaching into our own pockets. We pay for our own expenses and all monies collected go for either toys or for trucks to distribute them. This year we expect to help between 3000 and 4000 children.
We would not achieve our goals without the help of the countless companies, stores, and people who run toy-collection drives and/or allow us to place boxes in their area. These people would not be able to turn toys over to us without the generous giving of every member of the community who takes the time to purchase a toy and drop it into one of our boxes. We still need a lot of toys or money to complete this year. I cannot individually thank everyone, but I am grateful to each of you.
I also have to clear up a misconception. There are rumors being spread by misinformed people that we are either selling the toys or sending them to other areas. The auction held at our warehouse was a fund-raiser for us and was held by Appletown Auction. They auctioned Christmas items which were brought in by distributors from the entire East Coast. They did NOT auction our toys. At the end of the auction, we had almost 1000 more toys and over $900 – all of which went to purchase toys. The rumors that we distribute toys out of our area are also untrue. Toys for Tots strongly protects both its name and reputation. We address and correct any issue where our name is used without specific authorization, and we work with the Marine Corps Reserve to ensure that no one removes toys to other areas.
I realize that some people like to start rumors for their own benefit. I only wish that they would realize that they are hurting only the kids. Helping kids is our only goal, and we will continue to do so.
There is one other group of people who are hurt by these rumors. This group is the volunteers who donate two months of their lives to help us help kids. The untrue statements diminish their contributions – which I feel is a despicable thing to do.