The Douglas County Toys for Tots campaign will brighten Christmas for hundreds of families.
The annual Douglas County Toys for Tots campaign provides children with something much more precious than board games, footballs and dolls.
"Every child deserves hope. If you don't have any toys at Christmas, how can you have hope?" said Debbie Liddel, the project's community coordinator.
"So we're giving them hope. I really like that idea."
This is the third year the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation in Quantico, Va., has authorized Douglas County to conduct its own independent campaign.
In past years, the county's Toys for Tots drive was conducted in association with the Marine's 24th Regiment Supply unit in Kansas City.
The U.S. Marine Corps Reserve and the Salvation Army are sponsoring the county's campaign.
Liddel has been involved with the local Toys for Tots effort for the last five years. She has served as community coordinator for three years.
Last year, the campaign raised $17,072 in donations and collected 2,692 toys and stocking stuffers for children in about 500 area families.
Slate of events
Thirty to 40 donation drop-off boxes for toys will be in businesses throughout the county.
Plastic snowmen will be placed in banks and stores in Douglas County to use for cash donations to the toy drive.
Donations and toys that are contributed to the campaign stay in Douglas County, Liddel said.
A slate of events and special promotions, which started in late October, is under way to raise money for the Toys for Tots campaign.
A darts tournament is set for Dec. 4 and a pool tournament will follow on Dec. 5 at Rick's Neighborhood Bar & Grill, 623 Vt.
McDonald Chiropractic Clinic, 953 E. 23rd, will have a toy drive on Dec. 9.
A Toys for Tots auction will be held Dec. 11 at the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, 1421 Research Park Dr. Doors will open to view the items at noon. The auction will start at 1:30 p.m.
Local businesses and organizations will sponsor cookie booths for a bake-off competition during the auction event.
The toys will be distributed Dec. 14, 15 and 16 at the Salvation Army's temporary Toy Shop, at the Douglas County 4-H Fairgrounds.
'Very excited, grateful'
The Toy Shop will be open to families who've applied to be "adopted" for Christmas by the Salvation Army.
The families go through a screening process -- showing proof of their income and the individuals in their households -- to qualify for use of the Toy Shop.
Parents of the adopted families will receive vouchers for Christmas dinners and may choose toys for each of their children.
Each family will receive some children's art supplies, books and winter clothing such as hats and mittens.
Every child will be able to get several toys, ranging in price from $5 to $20. Toys will be available for children from infants up to 16 years old.
The greatest need during the campaign is for gifts suitable for children ages 12-16.
All donated gifts need to be new, unwrapped and worth at least $5.
"If we did not have the Toy Shop, then those adopted families would not have toys for their children for Christmas. Their holiday would be much bleaker. The parents are very excited about it, very grateful," said The Salvation Army's Lt. Carolyn Schuetz, director of the Toy Shop.
"We try to keep the variety of gifts the same for the first person through the shop to the last person. We buy and collect toys every day during the Toys for Tots drive and while the Toy Shop is open."
Need to apply
Suggested gift items to donate to the campaign include: camping equipment, board games, card games, electronic games, small "boom boxes" or clock radios, batteries (AA, C, D and 9-volt), sporting equipment, high-quality clothing (such as Kansas University or Kansas State University sweatshirts), puzzles, Star Wars figures, Lego sets, tool sets and plastic models (with glue and paint).
An important aspect of the Toy Shop, Schuetz said, is that "there's nothing to identify these gifts as coming from anyone but Mom or Dad."
-- Jim Baker's phone message number is 832-7173; his e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.