TAMPA — Herb Donica has a message for those wanting to donate to Toys for Tots: don’t wait until Christmas Eve.
The annual toy donation drive, guided by the U. S. Marine Corps Reserve, typically distributes its toys well before the day before Christmas. If you want to help, Donica says, give now.
"After all, the volunteers need to do a little Christmas shopping and deserve some ‘R&R,’" Donica wrote in an email.
The need for rest and relaxation at the end of the holiday period is understandable given the massive undertaking of the effort. Last year, the program provided toys for more than 40,000 children in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco Counties. Donica and his wife Jan, who annually open their home up to a holiday party to spark donations, actively works to help the effort, in part because 97 cents of every dollar donated goes to children.
All toys collected in the program are taken to warehouses where Marine Corps reservists and volunteers sort the toys and bag them for distribution to local families. More than 200 volunteers will handle, sort and distribute toys.
Those familiar with the program will note that Toys for Tots only collects unwrapped toys. That’s because the toys are presented to parents and guardians who can then distribute to their children.
"By providing toys to the families through the parents and guardians, the program assists the families and reinforces the concept that the holiday season is about families," Donica wrote. "The parents who may be struggling financially get a boost by being able to provide Christmas joy for their children. The children recognize and accept the love of their parents reinforcing the idea of a "family unit" instead of institutionalizing holiday gift giving."
For more information, visit tinyurl.com/yddtpp3r.