Story By: Spencer Porden
For 71 years, the Marine Corps Toys for Tots program has been bringing “a little Christmas” to 7 million children nationwide each year, who otherwise might wake up on Christmas with little or nothing under the tree. Gary Small has been coordinating the campaign in Sheridan County for the last 13 years.
According to Small, the Sheridan Toys for Tots program delivers toys to approximately 1,000 kids in Sheridan County, and on parts of the Crow and Northern Cheyenne Reservations each year. For years the campaign has received a large donation of toys from Toys ‘R’ Us, which what a large portion of their effort, however with the national bankruptcy of the toy-store chain, the donations in Sheridan County are down this year.
Maureen Hickey, director of the Rising Sun Wellness Center, which hosts Toys for Tots each year said that there’s always a worry if they’ll have enough toys to go around.
Hickey said that while families in need can show up the day of distribution to collect any needed toys, they always encourage people to pre-register which can be beneficial to the adults in need as well.
Hickey added that most people don’t know that the Toys for Tots program is for kids aged 0-18, so donations of gifts for older children such as art supplies, fishing poles, sleeping bags and sports equipment are always needed.
The program accept donations of cash or checks as well, in which all of the money goes to buy toys for children in the area, and none goes to overhead expenses. Distribution day will be on Saturday, December 15th at the Rising Sun Wellness Center, which is located at 151 West Brundage Street in Sheridan.
Hickey said that the program is always looking for volunteers to help on the 14th or 15th. If you’d like to donate a toy, donation boxes for the program are located in over 20 different locations around Sheridan. Toys must be new and in the box and my not be any type of weapon.
For more information, call the Rising Sun Wellness Center at: 674-1668