Toys for Tots drive underway

This year’s Toys for Tots drive received a strong good kick-start Nov. 22 with a six-hour “You Buy a Toy, We’ll Give a Toy” event hosted by True Value Home Center.

True Value Home Center has held the event for six years in a partnership with the Marine Corps League Griswold Mountain Detachment No. 1121. For every toy donated by the public at the event, the store donates a toy.

At the end of the day,25 members of the detachment, along with Cal Fire Bass Lake station, collected 340 toys and $732.

This year’s toy drive coordinator, Dennis Osantowski, was pleased with the turnout.

“Regardless of the welcomed rain Saturday, people enthusiastically came out to show support for Toys for Tots and the children of the Mountain Area,” Osantowski said.

There are 90 Toys for Tots donation boxes spread throughout Eastern Madera County at businesses, schools, and churches. All donated toys should unwrapped and have a minimum value of $10. The campaign to collect toys ends Dec. 13.

“On behalf of the Bryant family, all of us at True Value are happy to help with the Toys for Tots program,” said store cashier Ninamarie Camarena. “I was very impressed to see all the people today supporting Toys for Tots.”

Stacey Sandoval and her family, including her two-year old daughter Cara, were visiting Oakhurst from Fresno Saturday, and were happy to help the cause.

“It’s great to see the Marines giving back to the community,” Sandoval said.

Mike Perreira, who served as coordinator of the toy drive, along with his wife Brenda, for 10 years, stressed that every toy donated in the Mountain Area, stays in the Mountain Area.

Perreira said last year 4,000 toys with a value of $60,000 were distributed to about 1,400 children in the Mountain Area.

Osantowski said it has been a trying year for area families with the drought, fires in Coarsegold, Oakhurst, and Bass Lake areas, unexpected layoffs, and general economic conditions.

“Toys for Tots was started in 1947 for exactly these sort of reasons - when communities come together to help those in need,” Osantowski said.

Members of the Griswold Detachment made a trip earlier this week to Toys “R” Us in Clovis to pick-up toys for the drive. The store provided the Mountain Area with a credit to purchase toys from donations made at the store specifically for Toys for Tots throughout the past year.

Upcoming Toys for Tots events

• The Queen's Inn/Idle Hour Winery will hold a toy collection fundraiser at 6 p.m., Friday, Dec. 5, at the Queen’s Inn Wine Bar, 41139 Highway 41. Admission is a minimum of $10 or more, or a new, unwrapped toy to enjoy fine wines. Details: (559) 683-4354.

• The Toys for Tots Round-Up will be held 9 a.m. - 3 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 6, at the Old Mill Shopping Center parking lot near CVS. The Yosemite High cheerleaders will hold a bake sale during the event with all proceeds going for toys.

• Oakhurst Family chiropractic will host a reception for Toys for Tots, 9 a.m. - noon on Saturday, Dec. 6. The business is offering discounts on services with donations of new toys. Details: (559) 642-2225.

• Oakhurst Elk’s Lodge 2724 will hold its annual Crab Feed on Saturday, Dec. 6, to raise funds for the club’s annual children’s Christmas Party and to collect toys to support Toys for Tots. Details: (559) 683-2717.

• Dorsey’s Hallmark is celebrating 50 years of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer with a special promotion. For every small Rudolph purchased, Dorsey’s will donate $1 to Toys for Tots. For every large Rudolph purchased, the store will donate the same toy to Toys for Tots. Details (559) 683-3006.

• Sullivan's Tire Pros will make a donation for every tire sold through Dec. 12: Details: (559) 683-5999.