A partnership between the Orangeburg County Chamber of Commerce, the Salvation Army and The Times and Democrat is working to ensure that less-fortunate children have something special under their Christmas tree this year.
T&D Sales Manager Kyla Fraser said the newspaper has launched the sixth annual “Very Merry Toy Drive” to help children who would otherwise not receive toys this holiday season.
"This effort is making a significantly positive impact in providing a good Christmas experience for families," Fraser said.
Once the collection efforts are complete, the Salvation Army will manage the pickup and distribution of the toys, she said.
Salvation Army Capt. Kellie Cantrell said partnering with other agencies is critical in making the toy drive a success and helps ensure that more families are being served during the holiday season.
"I couldn't do what I do without the partnerships. We just want to have good relations throughout the community, and good relations come with partnerships," Cantrell said.
People are asked to donate new, unwrapped toys by placing them in a box located in The T&D's downstairs lobby or at one of the nine sites across the community. Toys can be dropped off through Monday, Dec. 10.
Other drop-off sites include: the Orangeburg County Chamber of Commerce, Grove Park Pharmacy, Swift Books, Jimmy Jones Toyota of Orangeburg, Fogle's Piggly Wiggly on Columbia Road, Walmart, Woody's Pawn & Jewelry, Santee Do It Best Hardware and Stroman Appliance.
"We collect on average around 500 new, unwrapped toys annually from all locations. If anybody has an interest in bringing any larger items, they can bring them to The T&D. We did at one point have some bike donations and some larger toys," Fraser said.
Cantrell said children who are not adopted through the Salvation Army's Angel Tree program have toys provided for them through the Very Merry Toy Drive.
"If they missed our Angel Tree deadline, then people can contact our office if they have an emergency need, and we can service them after our Angel Tree distribution," she said.
Cantrell added, "Right now we do have over 500 children that came to us through our sign-ups, but I anticipate that we will have 100 or more emergency cases that we have to fill."
The main toys needed by the Salvation Army include Paw Patrol items for very young boys and girls and baby dolls with accessories for girls.
"We've had a need for Marvel action figures like Spider Man and Black Panther. We also have a need for the older children like the 12-year-olds," Cantrell said, noting that many of them like hand-held games and, for older girls, items such as fingernail polish, lotions and perfumes.
"Older boys tend to like sports items and colognes. We're always short of those items for the older boys," she said.
Fraser said she is appreciative of the Salvation Army and the Orangeburg County Chamber of Commerce, which have sponsored the toy drive since its inception, for their work in making the Very Merry Toy Drive a success.
"It really makes for an excellent team," she said.
For more information about the toy drive, call The T&D at 803-533-5500.