It’s been in the 70s and low 80s here in Georgia. Spring is here, the flowers are blooming, certain trees are flowering, the birds have built nests, bees are buzzing, butterflies are dancing, and people are getting ready to open their backyard pools. And some thoughts are turning to Christmas.
It’s not too early to begin thinking about Christmas this year. In fact, the local detachment of the Marine Corps League is already making plans.
During the Christmas season of 2013, the Sgt. Clyde Thomason MOH Detachment #1325 (“MOH” stands for “Medal of Honor”) partnered with 29 different charitable and religious organizations to distribute 16,422 toys to 5,000 children in Fayette and Coweta counties who, otherwise, would not have had much of a Christmas.
According to an official report by Detachment Commandant Mike Foran, “The Toys for Tots planning began in mid September by training participating organizations that served as toy distributors with the protocols of registering families using revised application procedures.
“Shortly thereafter on Oct. 18, Fayette Toys for Tots officially kicked off by sponsoring the Toys for Tots Kick-off Classic football game between rivals McIntosh High School and Starr’s Mill High School. Over $1,100 was raised during this event.
“Thereafter, numerous fundraising events were held and over 160 toy collection sites were established throughout our local community. The volunteer force was not limited to our Marine Corps League Detachment members; it also included family members, friends, and other volunteer organizations.
“By Dec. 21, about 80 percent of the toys (13,181) were collected from over 160 establishments. Approximately 11 percent or 1,450 of the 13,181 toys came from manned storefront collection sites such as local Walmarts, Toys”R”Us, Belk, and Big Lots. We purchased 13 percent of the toys from monetary donations — 2,080 toys primarily for older children. And lastly, 7 percent (1,164 toys) came from the National T4T Foundation.
“Our Toys for Tots program was so successful that we collected an excess of 3,600 toys, which were transferred to the Atlanta Toys for Tots program,” Foran concluded.
The month after Christmas, one of the leaders said, “It’s time to start thinking about next Christmas!”
It may seem premature to be thinking about Christmas even before Mother’s Day makes its way on to the scene, but that is what has made the local Toys for Tots program successful every year.
It’s not about toys and it’s not about money. It’s about the kids who have no money and would likely have no toys on Christmas were it not for the Marine Corps League and its partners. And, if it’s not too early to plan, it’s not too early to buy a few toys every few weeks and hide them away in the back of a closet until Christmas draws near.
Having manned tables for the last few Christmas seasons, I can testify that it is a cold business. Unless there is a warm spell, the uniform of the day includes long underwear, long sleeves, a heavy coat, gloves, and a hat. But one thing certain to warm the heart of a grizzled Marine veteran is to see people drop by the table and put in a few toys or a few bucks.
So, when the time comes, the Marines are looking for a few good men, women and children to help make a child’s Christmas dream come true. When you’re in the “dream come true business,” Christmas comes sooner than you think.
[David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, Sharpsburg, GA (www.ctkcec.org). He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese which consists of Georgia and Tennessee (www.midsouthdiocese.org) and the Associate Endorser for the Department of the Armed Forces, U. S. Military Chaplains, ICCEC. He may contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about the local Marine Corps League, go to www.MCL1325.net.]