Another Successful Year for Toys for Tots
Toys for Tots, under the leadership of Billy Saunders and Robin Cavallaro, along with many volunteers, collected and provided a very Merry Christmas to over 300 families this year. In 2018, Toys for Tots had 146 collection sites with 210 boxes. Some of those site locations were able to fill multiple boxes. The families, who filled out applications to receive toys, are cross referenced with the Department of Social Services. Along with the toys, approximately $5,000 in cash, check and/or online donations were received from residents, local businesses and civic organizations.
American Legion Post 274 in Lusby donated 36 bikes of all sizes, 10 scooters and 10 skateboards. The post members spent December 1 at the post home assembling them and test driving to make sure they were good to go. They also presented Toys for Tots with 20 backpacks donated by Exelon Generation.
Volunteers came from all over Calvert County including NJROTC units, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Marine Corps Reserves, local residents, and even some active duty Marines. These volunteers helped us collect the filled boxes from all over the county, sort out the donations and arrange them on tables.
Billy Saunders, when asked, said “that the best improvement to the program this year was Location! Location! Location! Last year members of the Calvert Elks Lodge #2620 were very involved as volunteers who while volunteering recognized the logistic struggles that we dealt with in regards to having to sort the toys at one location and then have to move the toys to the distribution site. Brenda King & Rebecca Miller (Elks members) presented the idea of being able to use the Elks Lodge as both the sorting site as well as the distribution location with the Elks board and it was approved. Their generous donation of the use of their banquet / reception hall made a huge improvement in our ability to organize and manage the campaign much more smoothly this year. We hope to continue to grow our relationship with them in years to come”.
Billy continued, “Fellow Coordinator, Robin Cavallaro and I face various degrees of challenges each year however with this being our 3rd year running the program we honestly feel as though it becomes more and more efficient with time. Ultimately what helps us is the amazing support of the community. Everyone from the volunteers to the business owners and donors allow Toys for Tots of Calvert County to continue to grow and provide a great Christmas for so many kids throughout the county”.
“Speaking about the donations each year, it’s hard to say that any particular year is better than previous years. Each campaign is different and we experience amazing examples of generosity from many. Big donations are great and often celebrated. However we want people to realize that none of this could happen without the many, many single toy donations that are received”!
“Each year we have been able to make more connections with the local residents who are active duty, United States Marines who allow us to provide the Marine Corp presence at many of our events. Many of our sponsors love to see the Marines in full dress uniforms at their events”.
According to Billy, he believes that a growing social media presence has created more awareness for the program and encouraged more participation in the campaign. Local business frequently receive recognition for participating as a distribution site which we hope leads to increased customer traffic and potentially increased sales all while increasing our toy donations. In addition, through social media we have grown our volunteer participation. In 2017 our volunteer meeting consisted of 3 people in attendance. This year we had over 30 people show up with an interest in volunteering for Toys for Tots!
Please enjoy the picture gallery below of some of the work that went into making this year a success along with some of the volunteers.
Margit Miller / Calvert Beacon