The season for giving, celebration and good will toward humankind is starting. The first wish lists are appearing and the cooler weather is a good excuse for some fans of Christmas to already put up the decorations.
It is heartbreaking that not every family will have enough money for their children to enjoy Christmas with a shiny new toy. This doesn’t have to be.
The local Marine Corps League Sgt. Moses D. Rocha, Detachment No. 1287, has been sponsoring the Toys For Tots drive for 10 years and every year it has grown.
The MCL’s adjutant and paymaster, Dawn Hartwell, said, “We had 1,954 kids last year, (1,100 children more than in 2015). I wasn’t sure if we would make it or not (having a toy for each child). In the last minute we had the radio stations putting up announcements and people were coming up in droves with donations. I didn’t think we could have made it otherwise.”
With these higher numbers, the MCL started much earlier this year looking for donations and additionally had their first Toys for Tots drive, a motorcycle poker run, on Oct. 21.
“We got two full boxes of toys (Toys for Tots boxes),” Hartwell said. “We made $370. We had quite a few motorcyclists who came out. We had clubs and a lot who were not affiliated with a group who supported the run. We had a pretty decent event. After the run everybody got together for a pig roast and a bon fire was lit. Everybody had a good time.
“Bikers love to give,” Hartwell said. “They are very generous. If it comes down to a kid, you can count on them. They are that way.”
Toys For Tots boxes will be distributed throughout the community at banks and shops, including at the Roswell Daily Record. Only new, unwrapped toys are accepted and monetary donations are welcome as well.
“Toys”R”U gave us $1,000 this year again, even though they declared bankruptcy. So we still are able to go shop there,” Hartwell said.
This year another factor might raise the number of needy children.
“There is no Toys for Tots in Eddy County this year,” Hartwell said. “Some families might join us this year. The children who have been registered have first choice, but we are not turning any child away if the legal guardians have the correct documentation.”
There is a new group stepping up to help on the day of distribution.
According to Hartwell, the Marines MC Motorcycle Club is going to join the volunteers this year at the mall, bringing smiles to the faces of children who otherwise would have nothing under the Christmas tree.
Parents or guardians registering their children for the Toys For Tots gifting program must bring a valid U.S. government photo ID, children’s birth certificate(s) and proof of address dated within the last 30 days of registration. Registration closes on Dec. 9.
The Toy Giveaway will be on Dec. 16 at the Roswell Mall from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.
To register or for more information, visit roswell-nm.toysfortots.org, email Jim Bloodhart at firstname.lastname@example.org or Alan Hartwell at email@example.com or call 575-347-1625.
Vision editor Christina Stock can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 309, or firstname.lastname@example.org.