RIVERVIEW – Area residents and businesses came through in a big way again this year as the annual South Shore Toys for Tots campaign ended Dec. 15.
“We set a new record, and toys kept coming in even after the wrap-up party at The Alley,” said Anne Hathaway of Pearson Capital, South Shore Toys for Tots coordinator. “We had a great turnout and were absolutely overwhelmed by the community’s generosity. We know we’re going to make some very happy Christmas memories this year.”
Thus far Marines from the 4th Assault Amphibian Battalion have picked up more than 100 boxes of toys and taken them to be sorted at a Tampa warehouse before they are returned for distribution to area families in need. A record 40 bikes were also donated and almost $4,000 in cash.
The money will be used to buy gifts for children in hard-to-fill categories, like babies and pre-teens.
Even those who have little to give showed up at the party to make a donation.
Rick Covert of Riverview, 79, walked up and handed a Marine in dress uniform five $1 coins.
“I wish it could be more,” he told the Marine, who appeared almost stunned by the donation. “I didn’t have any toys to give, so I figured kids might like these.”
Notable donations also came from The Alley, which hosted the party and collected 22 boxes of toys, four bikes and $1,500 cash from its patrons and members of the community. Century 21 Beggins Enterprises agents donated 13 bicycles with helmets and two full boxes of toys; the Fraternal Order of the Eagles Aerie, $1,000; South Shore Marauders, three boxes of toys and the Tampa Rough Riders, $454. The Walmart store in Wimuama collected 14 boxes of toys and several bikes.
“This event is one of our favorites,” said Penny Smith of Ruskin, co-owner of the local H&R Block. “It’s special because we know everything that comes in is going to come back and benefit children in our community.”