TORONTO - The Marine Corps Reserves' Toys for Tots program will have a higher profile in Jefferson County this holiday season helping provide disadvantaged children with gifts under the tree come Christmas morning.
The Reserve's Toys for Tots presence in the county also included a "Stuff the Bus" event held this past weekend outside the Wal-Mart SuperCenter at the Fort Steuben Mall to collect toys and monetary donations for children in Jefferson County this Christmas. Along with Santa Claus and a Marine Reserve sergeant in full-dress uniform, the event included local program coordinator Deborah Oberlin passing out information and thanking those donating to help make Christmas a little brighter for children in need.
"We are here collecting toys for the children of Jefferson County," said Oberlin, adding all toys and funds collected in the county will be distributed in the county. "All of the agencies will be involved in a big toy distribution from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 15 at the Wintersville fire station."
PROGRAM BEGINS — The Marine Corps Reserve’s Toys for Tots program was held this past weekend at the Fort Steuben Mall seeking toys and monetary donations for the program’s “Stuff a Bus” event. Those participating included, from left, Deborah S. Oberlin, local coordinator for the Toys for Tots program; Santa Claus; Jeanine Jeffers, 4; and Sgt. Martin Cervantes of the Marine Corps Reserve. - Mark J. Miller
Oberlin, who also serves Harrison and Carroll counties, said the program's higher profile in the county will enable more children in need to receive more gifts. She added the names of families in need locally are being provided by the Jefferson County Department of Jobs and Family Services.
"(Those families in need) can also sign up for toys this year on our Web site, at www.toysfortotsohio.com," continued Oberlin. "This is the 62nd year for the program."
The nationwide program began in 1947 when Maj. Bill Hendricks of the Los Angeles Marine Corps Reserve collected and distributed more than 5,000 Christmas toys to children locally. The Corps eventually expanded the program into an annual event, and the program has distributed more than 386 million toys since its founding, according to Oberlin.
She noted the program can obtain toys from some manufacturers at cost, which means monetary donations to the program go farther.
"We can get more toys to more children that way," she said. "Also, the Build-A-Bear Co. has contributed more than 5,000 stuffed bears to the program, about 2,000 of which will be distributed in Jefferson County.
"There also will be a distribution in Toronto at the American Legion Post 86, 415 Market St., on Dec. 23," continued Oberlin, adding those who missed the first distribution can sign up for the second. "(Those interested) have to sign up at the Legion Post."
More Toys for Tots events are being planned for the county, including an auction and a program at the Schiappa branch of the Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County, said Oberlin. Dates will be forthcoming.
Those donating toys can drop them off at the Wintersville Fire and Rescue station on Luray Drive. Monetary donations also can be made online or by check made out to the Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots and mailed to: Deborah Oberlin, 3247 Highview Circle, N.W., Dellroy, OH 44620.
"Any (monetary) donations must specify they are for Jefferson County," Oberlin said. "Every penny we collect in Jefferson County has to go toward Jefferson County."
For information, call (330) 418-7516 or go to www.toysfortotsohio.com.
(Miller can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)