TOYS ON TIME: Local charity brings Christmas joy to hundreds of homes

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Around 900 children received Christmas presents this year thanks to the local Toys for Tots campaign. Kenny Smith, coordinator for the campaign, said they raised an estimated $15,000, which helped spread Christmas cheer to needy children just in time for Christmas.

Smith has been the campaign’s coordinator for the past four years. He became involved via the World Outreach Revival Center.

Smith said they couldn’t give back without the help of the community.

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“We have people here that have a heart for giving,” Smith said. “The community, as always, supported us so well this year.”

Nearly 25 years ago, the church started a church-based outreach Toys for Tots. For the past 12 years, they’ve been affiliated with the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots, Smith said.

In November, Smith and local volunteers placed an estimated 100 boxes at businesses countywide for donors to drop off new, unwrapped toys. They also hosted numerous fundraisers, including their Hang-a-Train campaign, which allowed donors to donate money instead of a toy by purchasing a paper train for $1 participating at businesses.

After collecting all the donations, Smith said they hosted “shopping days” on Dec. 21 and 22, which allowed parents to choose toys for their children before Christmas Day.

While the church limits how many needy children they can provide gifts to each year, Picayune Police Department Capt. Theresa Milar, who helps out with the campaign, said they do make exceptions for emergency cases.

They had one emergency case this year. Last week, Milar said they received a call from a family in Pearl River County who’s home was burglarized, and all the children’s Christmas gifts were stolen.

“We were able to help them out because it was an emergency situation. The mother was able to come during the distribution days and pick out some stuff,” Milar said.

Milar has been involved with the campaign for the past 21 years and enjoys every minute of it.

“You want to see every child wake up and have something on Christmas morning. We are able to do this because of the generosity from the community, including the organizations, individuals and local businesses who always step up to the plate,” Milar said.

Through the program, each child receives at least 10 items, including one big toy, four medium toys, stocking stuffers, a stuffed animal and a book, Smith said.

Children are selected through the church’s application process and via other local churches, school districts and the county’s Department of Human Services.

Smith hopes they raise more money and receive more toys next year.

“We have a population that’s growing and a need that’s growing with it,” Smith said.

For more information about Toys for Tots, visit