Toys for Tots kicks off drive

Published 2:51 pm Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The local Toys For Tots Foundation, World Outreach Revival Center, WRJW, the Picayune Police Deppartment and other volunteers will kick off the 27th annual Toys For Tots drive here on Monday that will see thousands of Christmas presents distributed to children that would not otherwise see a very happy Christmas.

Persons contributing toys to the drive should purchase toys for children birth through 12 years old, drive officials said.

Jackie Rabion, local director of the drive, said that the drive will kick off Monday and run into December.

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World Outreach pastor, Dr. David Meeks, said that at a minimum more than 5,000 gifts are distributed every year in the program.

World Outreach, at 900 Cayten Street, operates as an organizational point and headquarters for the drive, as does the Picayune Police Dept., which also has been active every year in the drive.

Rabion said the foundation here is affiliated with the national Marine Corps Toys For Tots Foundation, which began what has become one of the most successful toy and charitable drives in the nation.

Families that want to participate in the program should call the World Outreach Center at 601-798-3359, said Rabion.

“There is a small amount of paper work that has to be filled out,” she said. Drive officials will take names for gifts from Monday through Dec. 11.

In addition, there are collection boxes set up throughout the city where residents wanting to donate a toy can drop it off. She said the Toys For Tots accepts only new, unwrapped toys.

Cash donations can be sent to Toys For Tots, P.O. Box 1023, Picayune, MS 39466. Make checks payable to Toys For Tots.

Some of the collection points for toys are WRJW, Picayune Police Dept., Dollar General, Phillips Building Supply, Walker’s Body Shop and others scattered throughout the city, said Rabion.

Also, on Dec. 4 there will be a Radio-Thon on from 8 a.m. to noon WRJW when call-in pledges and donations of toys will be taken during the day. However, residents can drop off new toys any time during the drive at the radio station and any other collection point.

“We have been involved in this drive for 26 years,” said the Rev. Meeks, “and so have a lot of other organizations. It is sort of a joint effort on the part of those involved in the project. We just want some kids who would not otherwise have a happy Christmas to be able to participate in the joy of receiving gifts.”

The drive will be taking donations of cash and toys up to Dec. 16.

World Outreach has operated as “sort of the host” of the drive for the last 26 years, said Meeks.

Toys For Tots began in 1947 when Maj. Bill Hendricks, at the suggestion of his wife, Diane, along with the Los Angeles Marine Reservists, collected and distributed 5,000 toys to needy children throughout the city.

The drive was so successful that in 1948 the Marine Corp adopted it and expanded it into a nationwide campaign.