Toys for Tots gearing up for holiday season
Special to the Enquirer
Volunteers with the local chapter of Toys for Tots are gearing up for the holiday season. Terry O’Dell, the Toys for Tots coordinator for Morgan, Lawrence and Cullman counties, said he is looking forward to another year of helping provide disadvantaged children in the area gifts for Christmas.
Reflecting on his five-year tenure as the Toys for Tots coordinator, O’Dell noted the increasing need to assist more children each year.
“When I started as coordinator, we helped 1,250 children, and last year, we were able to support nearly 2,000 needy children, ensuring they had presents on Christmas day,” O’Dell said.
Addressing the unpredictable nature of the campaign, O’Dell explained, “Each year, we start not knowing how many children we will need to help. We don’t know how much money we will be able to raise or how many toys we will collect in our campaign boxes distributed throughout our represented counties. Yet, somehow, each year, we manage to bring it all together and provide gifts for all the needy children registered with our Toys for Tots partners and agencies.”
The success of Toys for Tots is largely thanks to the organization’s numerous volunteers, O’Dell said.
“I have been fortunate to have a fine group of volunteers who help me distribute campaign material, collection boxes and posters to companies willing to collect toys for the children,” he said. He added that the volunteers also play a crucial role in organizing warehouse space, ensuring a systematic approach to categorizing toys by age group and gender.
O’Dell further highlighted the expanding goals of the Toys for Tots Foundation, focusing on children in foster homes or those involved in the court system due to family problems. The campaign aims to supply toys year-round to children in need.
O’Dell said he has witnessed the best of humanity in his five years of working with Toys for Tots – from individuals and corporations stepping up to contribute, children with sweet expressions dropping off toys, large corporations conducting internal contests and businesses like Lynn Layton Chevrolet contributing 100 bicycles annually.
O’Dell emphasized, “I know there are other worthwhile causes that help children and families in need, but I do feel this is worth my time and effort to make a child feel good at Christmas time.”
“This year, with the help of the Hartselle Kiwanis Club and participating in the Hartselle Christmas Parade, I hope we will be able to collect additional toys and funds to provide each child in need with something for Christmas. Please bring a new unwrapped toy to the parade or make a cash donation, with checks payable to ‘Toys for Tots,” he said.
The Hartselle Christmas Parade will be held Dec. 14 at 7 p.m. in downtown Hartselle.