Toys for Tots organizers will have 90 collection boxes in place throughout Eastern Madera County by the end of next week, a reminder to all that Christmas will be here in seven weeks.
Last year, more than 4,600 toys were distributed to more than 1,450 children in the Mountain Area under the direction of coordinators Mike and Brenda Perreira.
Mike Perreira attributes the success of the drive year after year to the generosity of Mountain Area residents, schools, churches and business leaders.
"This is our eighth year for my wife and I to oversee the program, and every year we are amazed over the generosity of everyone that comes forward to help the children of the Mountain Area," Perreira said.
"The Toys for Tots program makes a big difference in the lives of less fortunate children in our Mountain Area," Perreira said.
Perreira stressed that all toys collected locally are distributed locally.
"The toys and money that are collected in the Mountain Area, stay in the Mountain Area," emphasized Perreira. "We'll have toy drop-off boxes at Mountain Area schools, churches, and 45 area businesses available to the public from Tuesday, Nov. 12 to Friday, Dec. 13. We need new, unwrapped toys in the $10 to $30 range."
Perreira asked that donated toys have a maximum value of $30.
"The gift of a shiny new toy means a lot to a child in need," Perreira said. "It shows a child that they have not been forgotten at Christmas."
In addition to assisting with toys, the community is encouraged to provide names of children that would benefit from Toys for Tots. Names can be given to school officials, churches, or to Perreira.
This year's sponsors include American Legion Post 110, Cal Fire, Idle Hour Winery, Marine Corps League Detachment 1121, Madera County Fire Department, Madera County Sheriff's Department, Northland Communications, Sierra Star, Sullivan's TirePros, and VFW Post 8743.
Special events in support of Toys for Tots this year include:
The fifth annual toy drive will be held 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 23, at True Value Home Center on Highway 49. When a toy is donated at the event, True Value Home Center will donate an additional toy in your honor, doubling the donation.
Assisting with the collections will be Cal Fire, Marine Corps League and the Madera County Sheriff's Department. Details: (559) 683-7117.
Sullivan's TirePros, 40126 Highway 49 will be making a donation to the cause for every tire sold between Nov. 12 and Dec. 13. This marks the eighth year the business has participated in the drive, and the business has contributed more than $5,600 over the past seven years. Details: (559) 683-5999.
The Queen's Inn/Idle Hour Winery, 41139 Highway 41, will hold a toy collection and fund raiser at 6 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 29 at the Queen's Inn Wine Bar. Admission is $10 per person to taste five wines or $15 (or a new un-wrapped toy valued at $15) to taste eight. Everyone who brings a toy to the wine bar during November will receive a free wine tasting and 10% off any wine purchase. The toys will be donated to Toys for Tots and 100% of cash donations will be used to purchase toys. Details: (559) 683-4354.
The Marine Corps League will hold the annual Toy Roundup 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 7 in the Old Mill Shopping Center (Vons) parking lot. The event has historically been the largest event of the drive and will feature Marines, fire fighters (and engines) and sheriff's deputies on hand to help collect toys and donations. In addition, the Yosemite High School cheerleader and pep teams will hold a bake sale during that time with all proceeds going to Toys for Tots.
The Oakhurst Elks Lodge No. 2724 will hold it's annual all-you-can-eat Crab Feed Dinner on Saturday, Dec. 7 to raise funds for the lodge's annual children's Christmas party and to collect toys for the drive. Details: (559) 683-2717.
Oakhurst Family Chiropractic will host a reception for Toys for Tots 9 a.m. - noon, Saturday, Dec. 7 and will have a collection box in the office throughout the toy drive. The business is offering special discounts for current and new patients for donations of new toys. Details: (559) 642-2225.
Northland Communications is holding a Toys for Tots promotion offering a free installation in exchange for a toy brought to them valued at $15 or more. Details: Karen Bradley, (559) 683-7388.
Perreira said all special events and Toys for Tots fund raisers must have approval by the organization and are closely monitored to maintain the integrity of the program.
"Once a business or organization is approved, we allow the Toys for Tots trade marked logos to be used in all promotional material," Perreira said. "All toys and funds collected on behalf of Toys for Tots must be delivered to us no later than Friday, Dec. 13." Details: Mike and Brenda Perreira, (559) 658-6311.