VFW Post Host Toys for Tots
The Southern Pines Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 7318 and its men's auxiliary hosted a Christmas barbecue with Santa toy collection Sunday, Dec. 12.
It aided the Sandhills Detachment 1001 of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program and the Sandhills Food Bank in memory of VFW men's auxiliary member and longtime Southern Pines business owner Mark Westbrook, who had been heavily involved in the program locally for many years.
The primary goal of Toys for Tots is to deliver, through a new toy at Christmas, a message of hope to less fortunate youngsters that will assist them in becoming responsible, productive, patriotic citizens. The principal Toys for Tots activity, which takes place each year, is the collection and distribution of toys in the communities in which a Marine Corps Reserve Unit is located.
Local toy collection campaigns begin in October and last until mid- to late December. Toy distribution also takes place mid- to late December.
Members of the community drop new, unwrapped toys in collection boxes located in local businesses. > Coordinators pick up these toys and store them in central warehouses, where the toys are sorted by age and gender.
At Christmas, coordinators, with the assistance of local social welfare agencies, church groups and other local community agencies, distribute the toys to the less fortunate children of the community. >Over the years, Marines have established close working relationships with social welfare agencies, churches and other local community agencies, which are well qualified to identify the needy children in the community and play important roles in the distribution of the toys.
While Toys for Tots coordinators organize, coordinate and manage the campaign, the ultimate success depends on the support of the local community and the generosity of the people who donate toys.
Local business leaders play key roles. They allow coordinators to locate drop-off/collection boxes in their stores, provide free warehouse space for storing and sorting toys during October, November and December, provide vehicles to collect toys from drop-off sites, sponsor toy raising events and help coordinators arrange media exposure for Toys for Tots in the local community.
"It was an honor to host this event at our post," said MaryAnn O'Connor, commander of the Post 7318. "This is a great program for 7318 to help coordinate and sponsor."
More than 250 people attended the Christmas barbecue The VFW collected 270 toys and raised $2,350 for Toys for Tots and 345 pounds of food for the Sandhills Food Bank.
"This was the biggest, and I do believe best ever, event in the community, and we are proud that we accomplished that," said Randy Byrd, treasurer of the men's auxiliary.
Photos for children with Santa were contributed by local professional photographer Glenn Dickerson. The Men's Auxilliary donated and prepared the barbecue and the other sides were provided by Ted Jordan, of Jordan's Catering, and Randy Hussey and Russell's Fish House. Many other local area individuals and businesses helped sponsor the event.
"We thank everyone who was involved in making this such a great success," said Jimmy Hinesley, VFW men's auxiliary president. "It truly was a tribute to Mark Westbrook, and we are proud to carry on the torch of our dear friend and comrade."
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