The annual Toys for Tots campaign officially kicked-off Nov. 18 at the Oakhurst True Value Home Center with 310 toys, 131 stocking stuffers and $1,047 being donated to the toy drive.
Eastern Madera County Toys For Tots Coordinator Dennis Osantowski called the event a DO GOOD affair - “This was a Donate One, Get One Other Donated day. For every donation brought in or purchased in True Value, the store matched the donation with another toy thereby doubling the donation to Toys for Tots.”
Osantowski said the turn out Saturday was great, with the True Value Home Center employees having to to re-stock the toy shelves in the store to meet the demand.
The Marine Corps League Griswold Detachment No. 1121 volunteers were assisted at True Value with CHP volunteers and Father and Mother Christmas to help accept toys from the public.
“Although Saturday’s turn out was an excellent start, we still need a lot more toys to provide for the less fortunate children of our Mountain Area,” Osantowski said. “There is still time to make your donation of a new, unwrapped toy in any of the 70 toy collection boxes throughout the Mountain Area including Raymond, Coarsegold, O’Neals, Yosemite Lakes Park, North Fork, Bass Lake, Fish Camp, and Oakhurst.”
Toy Round Up Dec. 2
Osantowski said the largest Toys for Tots event of the season is 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2.
Osantowski said volunteers are gearing up for the Toy Round Up in the Old Mill Shopping Center (adjacent to Big 5 and CVS ) with a corresponding toy collection event being held in the Coarsegold Historic Village.
“The two locations will have displays of military vehicles and or classic cars from the Road Rattlers Car Club, Madera County Search and Rescue Off Highway vehicles, Cal Fire firetrucks and CHP cruisers,” Osantowski said. “Lots of volunteers from all over the Mountain Area will come together to support Toys For Tots on Dec. 2, and we are hoping for a lot of donations from the community. All monetary donations and toys stay in the Mountain Area to benefit needy children and to assure they are not forgotten and that they get to share in the spirit and magic of Christmas.”
For the fourth year, Osantowski, a four-year veteran of the Marine Corps, is coordinating the drive, providing toys through 16 schools, six churches, Manna House, and four agencies including Head Start and the Boys & Girls Club.
Over the past 13 years, the Griswold Mountain Detachment has collected more than $690,000 in toys and cash contributions for the children of the Mountain Area. Last year the generosity of the residents of Eastern Madera County provided 4,500 toys, valued at $50,000 to 1,200 children in need.
Plans for a number of special events and promotions are being finalized for this year’s drive including:
* The Queen’s Inn/Idle Hour winery is running a special promotion during the holiday season. Details: (559) 683-4354.
* Slim’s Koffee Shak in Oakhurst and North Fork serve a free beverage with every toy donation. Details: (559) 683-5311.
* Dorsey’s Hallmark donates part of the proceeds from the sale of selected Christmas ornaments to Toys for Tots. Details: (559) 683-3006.
* The Coarsegold Chamber of Commerce sponsored Christmas Tree Lighting will host Toys for Tots for the third consecutive year in the Historic Village 9 a.m. - 3 p.m., Dec. 2, where chamber members will assist Marine Corps League volunteers. Coarsegold business and area sponsors include Wild Fig Kitchen, Coarsegold Car Care, Mountain Storage, Robert’s Frosty, Sun Mountain Gun Club and the Road Rattlers Car Club.
In addition to these businesses, major sponsors for the toy drive this year are Cal Fire, the Madera County Fire Department, Madera County Sheriff’s Department, California Highway Patrol, Golden 1 Credit Union, Mountain Bear Fan Club, Northland Communications, the Sierra Star, Sierra Tel, Oakhurst Family Chiropractic, VFW Post 8743, Sunrise Rotary Club, Sierra Kiwanis, True Value Home Center, Christ Church and Grace Community Church Women, Yosemite Brokerage, and 41-49 Property Management.
“The Toys For Tots drive embodies the true spirit of Christmas,” Osantowski said. “The gift of a shiny new toy - something that most children take for granted - means to a needy child that someone cares, that he or she has not been forgotten, that Christmas has not passed him or her by.”
Details: Dennis Osantowski, (970) 209-2099.