Toys for Tots, one of America’s most venerable holiday charities, has started the annual collection of gifts for children throughout the region, with more than 500 drop-off locations in Horry and Georgetown counties and Brunswick and Columbus, N.C.
Keenan Walsh, coordinator of the drive in Horry County, says the Horry County drive is off to a strong start with 280 drop-off boxes throughout Horry County – up from 240 locations last year. The Horry County drive kicked off Nov. 7 at Toys R Us in Myrtle Beach. The company is a major national sponsor of Toys for Tots, an official activity of the Marine Corps and a mission of the Marine Corps Reserve. The Horry drive will continue through Dec. 20.
Campaigns for toys are held in more than 700 U.S. communities, according to the Toys for Tots website and in areas that do not have a Marine base or Marine Reserve unit, detachments of the Marine Corps League typically provide volunteers. Walsh is an associate member of the Grand Strand Detachment No. 873. John W. Kovalcik, a past detachment commandant and long involved in Toys for Tots, is the current Marine Corps League national commandant.
The area is unique in also having the Carolina Borders Detachment 1036 which includes N.C. and S.C. members. Richard Rust of Calabash, N.C., coordinates the drive in Brunswick and Columbus counties, where most of approximately 250 drop-off boxes are located, with about 20 in the Little River area. Dec. 5 is the final pick-up date for the Carolina Borders boxes.
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In Georgetown County, coordinator Don Corinna of Pawleys Island says he and nine other former Marines are hoping to improve on last year’s drive which collected more than 7,200 toys that were distributed to more than 1,200 children from 400 to 500 families. Close to 200 boxes are located in Andrews, Georgetown, Litchfield, Murrells Inlet and Pawleys Island. Pickup will continue through Dec. 16
Walsh says the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation gave the Horry drive $4,000 which purchased 412 toys. “All of those toys go right to our children,” he says referring to the purchase and all toys collected. “Ten dollars is a real nice toy that children would love.” Donated toys must be new, and unwrapped. Various nonprofit organizations help the Marine volunteers in the qualification and distribution. These include Help 4 Kids, the Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, Conway Church of God, the Brunswick Family Assistance Agency and the Tabor City police department.
Horry County children likely will receive a Taylor Swift T-shirt. The star made a large donation to the national drive and Horry Toys for Tots received 22 pallets of the T-shirts, concert bracelets, posters and other items. Fortunately, an individual donated storage space. Also in storage are more than 3,100 Story Book Bears from Hallmark, a four-star partner of the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation. Four-star partners contribute $500,000 in cash or $1 million in toys. Five-star partners donate $1 million or $2 million in toys.
It’s easy enough to participate in this outstanding project. If you don’t wish to buy toys, cash donations may be made directly to area coordinators or on the Toys for Tots website where area drop-off locations may be found.