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Toys for Tots underway; annual campaign helps Calhoun, Orangeburg county children have a merry Christmas
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Toys for Tots underway; annual campaign helps Calhoun, Orangeburg county children have a merry Christmas

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Toys for Tots Launch

The Marine Corps Reserves Toys for Tots campaign officially opened Oct. 1. Willie Dash, commandant of the Greater Orangeburg Leathernecks Marine Corps League, Detachment 1259, is the local Toys for Tots coordinator and was joined by Greater Orangeburg Leathernecks Senior Vice Commandant Willie Smith at the North Road Wal-Mart on Friday, Nov. 1, to collect toys and donations for the effort. Pictured seated, left to right, are Smith and Dash.

The Toys for Tots campaign is celebrating its 28th year of partnering with the Marine Corps Reserves program to help children have a merry Christmas.

Willie Dash, the local Toys for Tots coordinator, says he’s confident the Orangeburg community will once again come through with donations to make Christmas good for the needy children in the service area.

“Orangeburg and Calhoun counties have been wonderful. We’ve never come up short. The community has always been there for us. We look forward to working with them again,” he said.

Last year, 662 children were served.

The Marine Corps Reserves Toys for Tots campaign officially opened Oct. 1 when officials began accepting letters from children and families and distributing collection boxes.

Children write letters to Santa in care of the Marine Corps Reserves Toys for Tots program. Letters must come with a verification of need from a school guidance counselor or church pastor.

A S.C. Department of Social Services household summary, which confirms who is in a household and their ages, must also be included, Dash said.

Families will be able to register to receive assistance from the program from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the following locations: North Road Wal-Mart on Saturday, Nov. 2, and Walmart Neighborhood Market store, corner of John C. Calhoun Drive and Stonewall Jackson Boulevard, on Saturday, Nov. 16.

Individuals can also register online at orangeburg-sc@toysfortots.org, Dash said.

The letters will be accepted until Dec. 1. Community residents read the letters and adopt children, but the families of children who are not adopted have an opportunity to visit Santa's Workshop.

While a letter acceptance deadline of Dec. 1 has been set, Dash said the program will work to accommodate those who may have emergency needs.

The quicker individuals get letters from children in, the better, Dash said.

The program assists children from birth to age 14 in its service region. New, unwrapped toys will be accepted, along with financial gifts for purchasing toys.

Individuals can donate online at orangeburg-sc@toysfortots.org if they wish.

Toys will be collected through Dec. 13. The toys will be distributed Dec. 14.

All donations made to the Orangeburg chapter stay in Orangeburg, Dash said.

The local program has an account with the Toys for Tots Foundation. All money goes through that account, but it comes back to the local Toys for Tots program, Dash noted.

Boxes are being distributed to businesses and churches for the collection of new and unwrapped toys, but that's just one way the community can participate in the effort.

Dash stressed the importance of volunteers.

“They are definitely important, especially on distribution day. It makes things flow a whole lot smoother. We have a number of guidance counselors from schools that come in and help us out every year,” he said.

This year distribution will be at the Orangeburg County Fairgrounds.

If a business wants to donate some secure warehouse space, it would be appreciated, Dash said.

“There’s things that become available during the year that we can get, but we have to have the storage for it, and it has to be accessible. You have to have a dock … to unload materials. All of that helps. Every little thing you can think of, we can use it,” Dash said.

The program's annual motorcycle toy run will be held the first weekend in December.

People interested in donating a monetary gift or sending in an application can mail it to: 1701 Belleville Road, Orangeburg, SC 29115. All donations should be made out to the Marine Corps Reserves Toys for Tots.

For more information, Dash can be contacted by phone at 803-290-2718 or by email at orangeburg.sc@toysfortots.org. The Toys for Tots Campaign can also be reached via Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Orangeburg-Toys-For-Tots-105208667540486/ or at https://orangeburg-sc.toysfortots.org/local-coordinator-sites/lco-sites/default.aspx.

Dash is also commandant of the Greater Orangeburg Leathernecks Marine Corps League, Detachment 1259.

Contact the writer: dgleaton@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5534. Follow "Good News with Gleaton" on Twitter at @DionneTandD

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