Toys for Tots seeks community donations

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Toys for Tots seeks community donations“We do not want any child to go without a gift,” said Tracy Bell, civilian coordinator of this year’s Toys For Tots drive.

Each year, the Marine Aviation Detachment at China Lake partners with businesses, organizations and residents of the community to make sure children in the East Kern corridor are not forgotten at Christmas time.

The movement began in 1947 in Los Angeles. Marine Maj. Bill Hendricks was inspired when his wife tried to donate a doll to a needy child, but could not find an organization with that mission. He recruited a group of Marines who subsequently collected about 5,000 toys to distribute. By 1948 their efforts were so successful that they launched a national campaign.

Bell said that the effort has been active in the Indian Wells Valley as long as she and any of the local Marines can remember. On average, the campaign serves about 2,000 children in Ridgecrest, Inyokern, Trona and California City. But Bell noted that since her involvement began five years ago, that need has been steadily growing.

Each child receives between three and five toys, plus stocking-stuffers.

Historically, the greatest need is for gifts for boys and girls age 10 to 14, as well as infants younger than 1 year.

This weekend, Toys for Tots will be at Santa’s Art Shop on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 2 and 3, when members will hold their memorial car show in conjunction with the toy drive.

On Saturday, Dec. 9, Toys for Tots volunteers will be at Desert Valleys Credit Union after the Elks’ Children’s Christmas Parade.

In addition, several companies are hosting drives in conjunction with their Christmas parties, and donation boxes can be found at businesses all over town.

Children can apply online at https://ridgecrest-ca.toysfortots. org/local-coordinator-sites/

lco-sites/default.aspx, or in person at the Salvation Army. The deadline to apply is Dec. 10.

The Ridgecrest distribution will be held Tuesday, Dec. 18, from 8 a.m. to noon and 4-7 p.m. at the Toys for Tots warehouse, located at 923 E. Ridgecrest Blvd.

Bell commended the community for its support of the program.

“Our community loves to give,” she said. “We have had great support in toy donations, help in the warehouse and monetary donations.”

— Pictured: Members of the Harley Owners Group of Ridgecrest donate the proceeds of their annual drive to the Marine Aviation Detachment coordinators of Toys for Tots. Representing MAD are Tracy Bell, Sgt. Diop and ABE3 Brockman.— Courtesy photo

Story First Published: 2017-12-01