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Toys for Tots drive in Youngwood raises holiday spirits

| Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Southmoreland Middle School sixth-grade students, from left: Lindsey Cyphert, Courtney Myers, Abby Snyder, and Carlie Collins load toys collected for the Toys for Tots program into the Carson's Tavern van.

Children whose parents could not afford to buy gifts for Christmas had the holidays made a bit brighter due to the efforts of Carson's Tavern and students at Southmoreland Middle School.

Those two have combined for the last three years to collect toys for the Toys for Tots program.

Kerri Livengood, Carson's manager, said close to 200 toys were delivered to the Toys for Tots warehouse in Youngwood Dec. 23.

“They actually didn't have that many there,” she said. “A lot had already been picked over. We were able to take ours. That was nice.”

The mission of the U. S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program is to collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year, and distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children in the community in which the campaign is conducted.

Livengood said the collection was down a little bit this year, but still marveled at the generosity of people, especially during the holiday season.

“It went well,” Livengood said. “It picked up towards the end. A lot of people were generous with some very nice gifts. Although, any gift is nice.”

Carson's Tavern has been involved with Toys for Tots for about eight years, Livengood said. Brian Pritts, sixth-grade term adviser, became aware of the program at the tavern where his wife once worked.

Items donated included Nerf Guns, baby dolls and the extremely popular rainbow looms.

When the program initially began at the middle school it involved just the sixth-graders, but that was expanded the next year to involve the entire school.

“Toys for Tots was down, but we still had some very generous donations,” Pritts said. “Jimmy (Carson, owner of Carson's Tavern) always have extremely high expectations, but we can feel good knowing that we did our part to help a good number of boys and girls be able to receive a toy on Christmas.”

Livengood praised the partnership between the two entities in the Toys for Tots drive.

“It has been very helpful,” Livengood said. “Every little bit counts. I'm a mom, but I have the money to buy for my daughter. Those poor (families) don't have it. People are generous during Christmas. They do open the pocketbook.”

Paul Paterra is a staff editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-887-6101 or