WINSTON COUNTY - The Toys for Tots program is starting from scratch collecting toys for children in need this holiday season since last year’s supply has been depleted.
New, unwrapped toys or monetary donations are gladly being accepted for this year’s program, since the toys remaining after last year’s giveaway went to help children facing a greater loss in another state, pointed out Jacob Eward, vice president of the Winston County Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 51, which sponsors the drive.
“We are actually starting over this year,” Eward stressed. “We have very little toys to start with this year because last year, we donated all the toys we had left over to the tornado victims in Kentucky. So, we’re asking anybody that is willing to help, please do so.
“Donations are the biggest part of this,” Eward continued. “That is community helping community.”
Families also struggling
Many families are struggling due to the rising cost of living, but relief can be found through the annual Toys for Tots program.
Applications can be picked up Nov. 1-30, according to Eward. On Dec. 1, he will go around collecting the applications so the process of matching toys with children in need can begin.
Applications will be available at the Winston County Sheriff’s Office in Double Springs or any town hall location in Winston County, stressed Eward.
Criteria for families completing these applications are that children ages 14 and under are in need of toys and that their families must reside in Winston County, Eward explained.
“Last year, we had roughly 290 kids, which is up from 2020,” Eward noted. “It was right at 200 kids in 2020.”
This year, the number of children benefiting from Toys for Tots has been predicted to be even greater, due to the economic situation, organizers stressed.
“We are working with local fire departments and businesses here in Winston County for donations of toys, money,” said Eward said.
New, unwrapped toys can be dropped off at the sheriff’s office or at collection stations set up at town halls located throughout Winston County, Gateway in Double Springs and Delmar Fire Department, FOP members said.
Monetary donations can be mailed to: Winston County Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 51, 11 Blake Drive, Double Springs, Ala. 35553. Checks can be made payable to FOP Lodge 51.
As other donations boxes are placed at other businesses, those locations will be announced, according to FOP members.
“We always enjoy being able to help those in need, especially around Christmas time because for some families all that the kids get are the toys we give out,” Eward pointed out.
FOP members are hoping they receive enough toys and donations to provide at least three toys per child in every family that comes to the giveaway planned for Saturday, Dec. 17, from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. at the Double Springs Municipal Building.
On that day, families need to provide some form of picture identification, which will be matched to the application already attached to the bags of toys that family is receiving, organizers said.
“I have always enjoyed this program,” added Caleb Snoddy, FOP Lodge 51 president. “I love that the FOP, with the donations received by the citizens of Winston County, is able to help so many children have a good Christmas.
“I would encourage everyone who can to participate and donate to the program,” Snoddy added. “Your donations are always appreciated.”
Volunteers are being requested to help sort the toys into age groups and into categories by families and towns on Friday, Dec. 16, starting at 5 p.m. at the municipal building, Eward saidd.
The FOP Lodge 51 is also conducting a raffle for an AR-15 rifle, accepting $5 donations for a chance to win. The drawing will be in December, the date of which has not yet been announced.
“That money goes straight for Toys for Tots,” Eward emphasized.
Donation forms on the AR-15 can be picked up at the sheriff’s office, and will also be available during the annual Town of Double Springs gun show on Saturday, Oct. 29, and Sunday, Oct. 30, at the Double Springs Municipal Building.
See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.