The annual Toys For Tots drive is under way, with nearly 400 drop-off collection sites at a variety of locations throughout Horry County. Keenan Walsh, in his fourth year as coordinator, hopes the drive will collect about 80,000 new, unwrapped toys.
“We’ve got a good start. Toys are starting to come in. We always have a little anxiety about are we going to be able to meet the need of the community,” he said.
Walsh noted that flooding from Hurricane Matthew in early October hit many families hard, and he anticipates that will increase the request for gifts for children.
Toys For Tots is a charity of the Marine Corps Reserve, started in 1947 in Los Angeles. In Horry County, the drive has been conducted since 1995 by the Marine Corps League Detachment 873, now joined by the relatively new Little River Detachment 1432, and a core of about 45 civilian volunteers. Walsh, a funeral director, is an associate member of Detachment 873.
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In 2015, Horry County Toys for Tots collected more than 73,000 toys, and with a grant from the national foundation, was able to provide more than 109,000 toys to 13,273 children.
The volume of toys typically increases after Thanksgiving, Walsh says, and on Friday, the drive’s biggest collection will take place at the area’s four Krispy Kreme locations. For a new toy or a $5 cash contribution, customers will receive a dozen hot, glazed doughnuts.
“It’s been a blessing” to have the stores among Toys for Tots sponsors, he said.
The effort has produced 5,000 to 8,000 toys, plus the cash contributions. Ed Piotrowski, chief meteorologist, and others from WDPE-TV15 will broadcast from different Krispy Kreme locations on Friday.
Other sponsors include the Myrtle Beach Chapter of the Penn State Alumni Association. Many groups and businesses collect toys at annual Christmastime parties.
The total of collection boxes “might reach 400 this year,” Walsh says. The number has increased by about 60 locations over last year. Volunteers are still taking boxes to businesses that wish to collect toys. “We’re always looking for drop-off locations” and for volunteers, who may apply on the Toys for Tots website. Retired Marines and the other volunteers will start collecting toys from boxes on Dec. 20.
Parents’ applications are screened by Barb Mains and volunteers at Help4Kids. Mains was training volunteers Tuesday. They check all applications, and Mains says donors of toys may be assured that parent recipients do not double-dip. Parents will pick up the unwrapped toys at five locations throughout the county on Dec. 21-23.
For more than 20 years, thousands of Horry County residents have generously helped area retired Marines and civilian volunteers provide Christmas gifts for children. It’s that time again, to buy new toys or dolls and take them to a nearby Toys For Tots collection location.
For the locations of Toys For Tots collection points in Horry County, or information about becoming a collection site, or a volunteer, or making a donation, visit the area website:
Horry County Toys For Tots sponsors: Krispy Kreme, Burky’s Grill, Grand Strand Funeral Home & Crematory, Myrtle Beach Chapter Penn State Alumni Association, Vacation Myrtle Beach, Walgreens, East Coast Honda, Goldfinch Funeral Home, Martin Heating & Air, Duraclean, Myrtle Beach Video Network, Dart Automotive