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Toys for Tots helps more than 1,300 children

| Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013, 12:02 a.m.

More than 1,300 children in Fayette County benefitted from this year's U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots Campaign.

Daniel Martin, local coordinator, said more than 5,000 toys were distributed this year.

“We hit our goal,” said Martin. “We hold registration so we can be sure we have enough toys for girls and boys in each age group. The need has stayed basically the same over the past several years. The number of children we helped may come in higher. The ultimate goal is to put a smile on the faces of the children on Christmas morning.”

Martin is in his 15th year as coordinator. He strives to have two major toys for every child plus stocking-stuffers.

“I keep that goal the same; it is basic. I don't change it and it works,” he added.

Uniontown Mall donates space for the warehousing and distribution of the toys.

Martin has a system for sorting that makes it easy for volunteers. The flow goes by age group, youngest to oldest, boys on the right, girls on the left, along the distance of the walls.

He studied production in college and puts his knowledge of time and motion into action, not wanting volunteers to have to walk too far when organizing thousands of toys.

The planning also makes it easier for new volunteers to jump right in.

“I try to make it easy for the volunteers. I want them to be happy to help. I have about 15 dedicated, wonderful, core volunteers that I can count on each year,” he said.

Pickup of toys is spread over two days. Martin said. With so many pick-up sites, it is quite an undertaking to get everywhere.

“The toys were collected and donated by various organizations, clubs, churches, charities, individuals and businesses too numerous to mention. The Daily Courier is a wonderful collection point for us every year. I work with Linda Keffer there and I don't know how she manages all those toys until we get there. I tell her she must have a trap door where she stores them,” said Martin.

Martin appreciates the many area families that give toys to the program in lieu of giving and receiving gifts for themselves. “We make it every year thanks to the generosity of area residents and a dedicated group of volunteers who help pick up and sort thousands of toys,” he said.

Nancy Henry is a freelance writer.

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