Christmastime can be a time of stress for some families, as they struggle with how to provide gifts for their children on Christmas morning. That’s where Toys for Tots, an annual program created by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, comes to the rescue.
According to the Toys for Tots website, their mission is to: “to collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year, and distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children in the community in which the campaign is conducted.”
Lake Havasu’s campaign is conducted by the Kiwanis Club of Lake Havasu and the U.S. Marine Corps League. Children are selected to receive gifts through forms filled out by their parent or guardians.
“Forms are sent to the participating pre-schools, district schools and charter schools,” said Lisa Theophilus, the co-chair for Toys for Tots through Kiwanis. “All children must be registered in local schools, unless younger than school age, and parents or guardians must bring identification and proof of residency in Lake Havasu City. The school nurses/counselors send home forms to those families they know are in need of help for Christmas.”
The new, unwrapped toys are collected through monetary donations and toy drives, along with help from both national and local businesses.
“We put out over 140 [donation] boxes this year,” said Theophilus. “Toys R Us donates $3,000 each year, Chevron sent 10 pallets of toy cars.”
One local company that cares deeply about the Toys for Tots drive is Havasu 95 Speedway. Rather than donating toys though, the Speedway donates bicycles, scooters and skateboards.
“All of us at Havasu 95 Speedway firmly believe every child should wake up to a bike on Christmas morning,” said Shelly Keirns, Havasu 95 Speedway’s operations manager. “This was our 10th year donating bikes to the Toys for Tots drive. Our drivers and our fans know we do this and look forward to helping us every year. We look forward to donating more next year!”
Havasu 95 Speedway’s total donation count this year was $7,912 raised, and 290 bicycles, scooters and skateboards donated, bringing their total donations since 2007 to more than $50,000 and more than 1,000 bicycles, scooters and skateboards.
Through the Toys for Tots drive, every child registered will receive at least five gifts, according to Theophilus. All gifts were handed out Dec. 16.