Applications for FOP’s Toys for Tots available now

WINSTON COUNTY   - Applications are already available for families with children in need this holiday season to complete ahead of this year’s Toys for Tots giveaway, sponsored by the Winston County Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 51.
This year’s giveaway will be a week earlier than usual, on Saturday, Dec. 11, from 9-11 a.m. at the Double Springs Municipal Building, when families who have filled out applications can come by and pick up toys for their children, noted FOP Lodge 51 President Brett Rodgers.
The giveaway will be in not a drive-through, but a walk-up format, where parents or guardians can come into the municipal building and present identification, organizers said.
Applications were available beginning Friday, Nov. 5, at town hall locations throughout Winston County as well as the Winston County Sheriff’s Office in Double Springs, Rodgers said.
Parents or guardians of the children are urged to be the ones completing the applications, which require such information as the age and gender of each child in the family who will be receiving toys, organizers said.
The deadline for families with children in need to turn in the applications is Tuesday, Nov. 30, so organizations can know the number of toys to provide for the giveaway.
The public, meanwhile, is being encouraged to make donations of only new toys, which can be taken by either the sheriff’s office, located in the courthouse in Double Springs, or any town hall location in the county, organizers said.
The deadline to submit donations is Wednesday, Dec. 8, according to Rodgers.
“We have a little bit left from last year,” he said. “We’re not starting from scratch. We’ve got a little bit of a foundation. We are still going to need more.
“There’s a big need,” Rodgers added. “There are so many kids.  Their parents rely on this.
“We’re in hard times right now with COVID. A lot of parents haven’t been able to work, some for two years,” Rodgers continued.
“We don’t want anyone to take advantage of (this giveaway). We want the ones who really need it and can’t afford it.”
Fundraisers are also being conducted to purchase toys; for instance, donations are being accepted for a chance to win a Radical Firearm AR-15, semi-automatic. Each chance is $5, but 5 chances are only $20, Rodgers explained.
Drawing will be held and the firearm  given away on Friday, Dec. 10, at noon, at the sheriff’s office. The winner does not have to be present to win but will be contacted, according to Rodgers.
Monetary donations are also being accepted, with a new format of giving being the GoFundMe account set  up by the FOP Lodge 51 on their Facebook page, noted Sheriff’s Investigator and FOP Lodge 51 Member Jacob Eward.
“All they have to do is go to our Facebook page,  click on it,” Eward said. “They can donate whatever amount of money they want, and it will go into our account.”
When clicking on donate, the person making the donation can provide credit or debit card information  and the amount they wish to donate, so their donation will be processed, organizers said.
“It is the first time we’ve had this,” Eward said. “It’s always good to have a separate means of donations, whether it be monetary or actual toys.
“That way we can make sure the kids of Winston County have a good Christmas, and we appreciate anybody that can donate to us,” Eward added.
Businesses or individuals wishing to make a donation to Toys for Tots need to contact the sheriff’s office at 205-489-2115 or Addison Town Hall at 256-747-2971.
The distributor that FOP Lodge 51 uses to obtain toys is facing shortages, but FOP members are working hard to make sure they use multiple means to obtain toys for the children of Winston County.
Monetary donations are also used to purchase toys from local and area stores, FOP members said.
Buying locally helps the jobs that are already in Winston County, according to Rodgers.
Toys that are purchased for this year’s giveaway will be assembled at the municipal building on Friday, Dec. 10, so FOP members, county and municipal employees can meet and sort the toys into bags.
Each child will hopefully receive two to three toys, depending on the number of donations, and the bag of toys given to each family will have the application attached.
When the parent or guardian comes on Dec. 11 to pick up the toys, they should give the name listed on the application, so volunteers can more quickly find the bag of toys for that family, organizers said.
Each year, about 200 children benefit from the FOP Lodge 51 Toys for Tots giveaway, according to organizers.
“This county has always come together and has been very helpful,” said Rodgers. “These kids, they are the future for Winston County.”
A separate Toys for Kids giveaway is planned for children in need from the Haleyville area.


See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.
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