Their message is clear — every boy and girl deserves to have something waiting for them under the tree on Christmas morning.
For 70 years, Toys for Tots has been providing millions of smiles to young boys and girls during the Christmas season and this year is no exception. Locally, the program will again get a helping hand from Santa’s elves through the Sedona Fire District, International Association of Fire Fighters Local 3690 and Sedona-Verde Valley Firefighter Charities.
In partnership with the Marine Corps Reserves, Sedona Fire District will be collecting toys for the popular program. On Saturday, Dec. 16, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. firefighters and staff will be located at Safeway in West Sedona and Weber’s/Clark’s IGA in the Village of Oak Creek. Residents are asked to consider bringing a new and unwrapped toy to donate.
“We are always ecstatic to help children and families in need, however giving back during the Christmas season is extra special,” said Keith Christofferson, Sedona-Verde Valley Firefighter Charities secretary. The Toys for Tots organization will distribute all the toys and donations to kids and families who can use a little extra help this season. There is no gift too big or too small.
If you cannot make it on Dec. 16, there will be Toys for Tots donation boxes set up at Fire Stations 1, 3, 4 and 6 as well as at other locations around town such as the Sedona Chamber of Commerce.
“Sedona Fire is participating with the Marine Corps League and supporting their Toys for Tots mission puts as big a smile on our face as it does the children getting the toys,” SFD Chief Kris Kazian said. “The program is well-run by the organizers and we are just trying to help spread a little more holiday cheer. It is truly an honor to be a supporter of the toy drive.”
Karen Barrow, who has coordinated Sedona Toys for Tots for the last four years with her husband Leonard, said there are 45 drop-off boxes around town. Some of the major locations in West Sedona are Walgreens, Bashas’, Safeway, PetSmart and Cafe Jose, and in the VOC at Ace Hardware, Clark’s IGA and AmTrust Bank. The boxes will be picked up Thursday, Dec. 14.
“We look forward to the Fire District’s participation in our Toys for Tots campaign,” she said. “Last year in just one afternoon, in front of Safeway and IGA, the firemen raised nearly $1,300 and collected 170 toys. They are looking to repeat this same success this year on the last day of our campaign.”
Sedona Toys for Tots will serve approximately 800 children in the Sedona area, Barrow said. Each child will receive two to three toys, a book, a stuffed animal and several stocking stuffers. They distribute the toys through the local schools, St. Vincent de Paul, Sedona Food Bank and through online registration at toysfortots.org, along with other smaller organizations.
According to its website, Toys for Tots got its start in 1947 in Los Angeles. At that time, more than 5,000 toys were collected, the first of which was a handmade doll. The following year, the U.S. Marine Corps took over the program and has overseen it ever since. The next year, Walt Disney designed the now famous Toys for Tots train logo and created the first national Toys for Tots poster.
Over the years, a number of celebrities and political figures have served as the program’s spokesperson including John Wayne, Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, Nancy Reagan, Kenny Rogers and Clint Eastwood. In all, nearly a half-billion toys have been donated and distributed through Toys for Tots. Today, more than 15 million toys are distributed to children annually.