For 10 years the Elkins Marine Corps League has worked to ensure low income families have a merry Christmas. The local Toys for Tots program provides toys for children in nine different counties.
"We are still registering people and it looks like we are busier this year," Program Coordinator Roger Ware said. "There are a lot more people moving into the area."
The Toys for Tots program was started in 1947 when a Marine recruiter learned there were children not getting toys for Christmas. Now, the nonprofit organization has 800 coordinators across the nation, including several in the Mountain State.
The Inter-Mountain photo by Anthony Gaynor
Elkins Marine Corps League volunteer Mike McRae sorts toys donated by the Elkins Purple Majesties during their annual Christmas dinner.
Ware said members of the Elkins Marine Corps League Leland D. Crawford Detachment No. 956 are still collecting toys and accepting donations to purchase toys for families in need.
Ware said the group will continue to register families throughout the rest of the week and will be handing out collected toys to families next Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The local program covers several counties including Randolph, Upshur, Tucker, Barbour and Lewis, and portions of Pocahontas, Greenbrier and Harrison.
The Marine Corps League has set up several collection sites throughout the area. Volunteers drive to the sites several times a week.
"We put in more than 1,200 hours of volunteer time," Ware said. "We have about 12 people helping in the project. We drive over 6,000 miles a year for this. Most of the guys drive their personal vehicles."
Ware said monetary donations to the program are used to buy additional toys to ensure as many families who need assistance receive it. He said the program spends an average of $7,000 a year on toys. Once registration for the program is complete the kids are divided into age groups. Once divided into age groups, the volunteers will see what is needed and purchase toys to make sure everyone receives a present.
"The majority of families are overjoyed," Ware said. "They are relieved that they can have Christmas for their kids."
Ware said the Elkins-Randolph County Airport allows the program to use the terminal as a staging area where families will pick up their toys.
Anyone interested in donating can do so at a collection site or visit www.toysfortots.org. For more information about the local program contact Ware at 304-636-4365.