Tots to get more than just toys

Published 3:11 pm Friday, December 19, 2008

This Christmas, eligible families benefiting from the Toys for Tots program also will receive some food from the Salvation Army.

About 1,000 children have been signed up for the Toys for Tots program. While there is plenty of need, donations this year are down by half, said World Outreach Revival Center Pastor David Meeks. Monetary donations also are down, said Jackie Rabion, local coordinator for Toys for Tots at the World Outreach Revival Center.

In spite of the downturn in donations, there was an extra effort by the Hide-A-Way Lake Afternoon Men’s Club, which collected $500 from residents in that community, Rabion said.

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Enough food was brought in Thursday morning by the Salvation Army to feed about 500 families, said Maj. Will Curdiff, area coordinator for the Salvation Army. Meeks said the food donated by Salvation Army should be enough because the 1,000 eligible children belong to fewer than 500 families.

A number of local residents came out to help unload the Salvation Army truck, including two Marines, Sgt. Jeffery Kellum and Sgt. Hung Tram and a member of the Navy, Christopher Long, Picayune Police community officers and other locals.

In less than an hour’s time, the volunteers had the truck unloaded and the food ready for distribution day.

The food was the product of donations from the six coastal counties that havae been collected since October, about $40,000 worth. Each of the six counties is getting a percentage of that donation to distribute to needy families.

When families come to pick up their toys on Monday and Tuesday, they and their families also will receive some of the donated food, which includes a six- to seven-pound baking chicken.

The Toys for Tots collection of donations has been extended from Friday until Tuesday. Rabion asks that the donations be taken to the WRJW radio station.