Toys for Tots drive underway

The annual Marine Corps Toys for Tots campaign has officially kicked off in Eastern Madera County with the placement of toy donation boxes and cash donation jars in more than 60 schools and businesses.

Dennis Osantowski, in his fourth year as Toys for Tots coordinator, stated that this may be one of the toughest years for the program with all the fires leaving more needy families and children than previous years.

“The Christmas season with Toys for Tots providing new and unwrapped toys for needy children has been happening since its official inception in 1948,” Osantowski said. “It can’t happen without the volunteers and the giving nature of our Mountain Area residents, businesses and organizations. Every dollar and every toy collected in Eastern Madera County stays in the Mountain Area to benefit children and families in need - and we gratefully appreciate every donor.”

Last year, about 4,500 toys valued at $50,000 were distributed to nearly 1,200 Eastern Madera County needy children.

This year, Mountain Area residents will have three big events to help the toy drive.

Kick-Off: Nov. 18 at Oakhurst True Value where any toy dropped off or purchased in True Value allows the donor to receive a free toy in the store to double the donation.

Queen’s Inn/Idle Hour Winery: Dec. 1 wine tasting 5:30 - 8:30 p..m. Bring a toy(s) worth $20 or a cash donation to taste 10 different wines and light appetizers.

Toy Round Up: Dec. 2 at the Oakhurst Old Mill Shopping Center (Vons) and the Coarsegold Historic Village. Tents and volunteers will be present in both locations, Marine volunteers will be on hand to visit with the public, and children will have the opportunity to talk with Santa. Fire engines, police cars, and search and rescue vehicles will be on display.

Look for Mountain Area businesses in Oakhurst, Coarsegold, North Fork who offer money saving specials that benefit Toys for Tots. Participants include:

Hallmark sponsors Toys for Tots by donating money for every “itty bitty” toy and each Snoopy, Peanuts and Charley Brown ornament sold.

Slim’s Koffee Shak in Oakhurst and North Fork accepts cash donations to benefit Toys for Tots and offers a free beverage with any toy donated at their shops.

Christ Church Women’s Boutique will be held 9 a.m. - 3 p.m., Nov. 18, at the Masonic Lodge on Highway 49 on Redbud Drive, with a portion of proceeds going to Toys for Tots.

Oakhurst Family Chiropractic, 49346 Crane Valley Toad (426), offers savings on adjustments on Dec. 2 for toys donated at the office.

“The magic can’t happen without help and assistance from everyone,” Osantowski said. “We can make this a Christmas to remember when those children who might not have one wake up to at least one new toy under the tree.”

Details: Dennis Osantowski, (970) 209-2099.