All day intermittent rain last Saturday couldn't dampen the spirits of those volunteering at the Toys for Tots Toy Round-Up at the Old Mill Shopping Center. On hand collecting new unwrapped toys, cash and checks were 20 members of the Marine Corps League Griswold Mountain Detachment 1121 and their wives, a dozen fireman who arrived in four fire engines from Oakhurst Station 12 and Bass Lake and Ahwahnee Cal Fire stations. According to Mike Perreira, Toys for Tots coordinator for the Mountain Area, more than 300 toys and $3,000 was raised during the day long event. Contributing to the $3,000 was the cheer and pep teams, under the direction of coach Jennifer Lincoln and parent Jennifer Mearse, who sold $1,130 worth of baked goods during the day.
People drove through the drop-off location in the parking lot near CVS Pharmacy between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. and purchased baked good from a table set-up near the entrance to Vons.
"The girls understood that today was about giving back," Lincoln said. "I told them that they have wonderful lives but there are many children in our community who go without meals and new clothes and wouldn't otherwise have toys under their Christmas tree if it wasn't for Toys for Tots."
Lincoln said her teams worked hard all day long and she was proud of the girls and they way they supported Toys for tots.
"The generosity of the people in this community never ceases to amaze me." Lincoln said. "An elderly gentlemen came up to me today and handed me a large vitamin jar filled with change he had been collecting the past year and wanted to donate the money to Toys for Tots."
"The generous people of this community responded as they always do and we thank them all for their support of Toys for Tots," Perreira said.
Perreira said more than 4,000 toys were distributed to more than 1,400 children in the Mountain Area last year and he expects this year's distribution to be about the same.
"I can tell you without hesitation, the Toys for Tots program make a big difference in the lives of some of the less fortunate children and their parents in our community," Perreira said. " Every year we get cards from parents who tell us how grateful they are for the Toys for Tots program.
"Some parents tell me they used to donate to the program, but things have changed and now they are in need of toys for their children," Perreira said. "They also tell me that when they get back on their feet, they plan to once again donate to the program."
The toys are hand picked based on the child's age and gender. Smaller children receive four toys and older children receive three toys. Names of children receiving toys and primarily provided by area churches and schools.
About 20 members of the Marine corps League Griswold Mountain Detachment and their wives donate some 1,200 hours during the drive collecting, sorting and delivering toys through out the area.
"We work hard to make sure that the four-year-old boys and the 12-year-old girls in the community receive gifts they will be happy with," Perreira said.
Five members of Oakhurst Brownie and Daisy Troop 3041 delivered toys that they purchased with funds raised from a year-round recycling program. Delivering the toys were Sonia O'Brien, Olivia Walters, Jane Irion, Emma Blea and Maddie Davidson.
Fireman on hand for the Toy Round-Up included Bob Kernaghan, Ryan Davis, Richard Chow, Brian Allman, Alan Stickles and Michael Sachey.
This year's Toys for Toys sponsors are Cal Fire, Marine Corps League Detachment 1121, Madera County Fire Department, Madera County Sheriff's Department, Sullivan's TirePros, VFW Post 8743, Queens Inn/Idle Hour Winery and the Sierra Star.
Toys for Tots collection boxes at 75 Mountain Area schools, churches and businesses will be out through Dec. 14 for people to drop-off unwrapped toys with a minimum value of $10.
Details: Mike and Brenda Perreira, (559) 658-6311.