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Tucked away in the Blauert Building in West Sedona, the “Toy Room,” looking remarkably similar to Santa’s workshop, is stuffed full of jump ropes, footballs, dolls, toy cars and games.
By Trista Steers
Larson Newspapers
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Tucked away in the Blauert Building in West Sedona, the “Toy Room,” looking remarkably similar to Santa’s workshop, is stuffed full of jump ropes, footballs, dolls, toy cars and games.

Only, Santa won’t be giving these toys to children — the Marine Corps Reserve of Sedona will.

Gifts will be distributed to children in Sedona who may otherwise not receive any on Christmas morning, as part of the reserve’s first official toy drive.

Toys for Tots has been a U.S. Marine Corps Reserve program since 1948.

Sedona hasn’t previously participated because it didn’t have a reserve until last May. Now, there are 40 members.

“The response has been overwhelming,” said Marilyn Chilicas, who is helping organize the program.

The toys already found in the room were bought with money raised by or donated to Toys for Tots.

Toys “R” Us also gave the program a grant to be used to purchase merchandise from its store.

On Wednesday, Nov. 15, boxes will be placed around town so residents who also wish to donate can do so conveniently.

Donation boxes will be located at Sedona Rouge Hotel Spa, Desert Hills Bank, City National Bank, Coldwell Banker and Weber’s IGA in the Village of Oak Creek.

Each day volunteers will check the boxes and collect toys that have been left.

Donations need to be new and unwrapped, but not necessarily toys.

Some of the recipients will be older — seventh grade and up — so items appealing to their interests are welcome as well.

Chilicas said shampoo, lotion and hair accessories are great gifts.

Recipients may enjoy sports- or video game-oriented gifts, as well.

Once the gifts have been

collected, they will be distributed to less-fortunate children, because every child deserves a little Christmas, Reservist Dave Blauert said.

Chilicas said program facilitators have began contacting local schools who are asked to provide the age and gender of children in need.

Volunteers then package gifts accordingly and take them to the schools to be distributed.

Reservist Thron Riggs said they don’t want to leave any child out and would appreciate help from the public in identifying those in need.

Last year — before the reserve received its charter — a last-minute, makeshift effort didn’t produce enough toys to go around, Blauert said.

Riggs doesn’t want to see this happen again.

“We’re going to have one toy for each child,” Riggs said.

On Saturday, Nov. 18, the reserve will also sell teddy bears at Bashas’ and Weber’s IGA from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Proceeds go toward purchasing Christmas gifts. For more information, contact Chilicas at 282-4549, Ext. 13.


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