Toys for Tots adds manpower for campaign

This year’s Toys For Tots campaign has garnered considerably more volunteers and toy drop-off locations, but organizers are maintaining conservative expectations.

“Our goal is to hold steady at helping 1,000 kids, same as we did last year,” program co-coordinator Nate West said.

This is the second year that The Outreach, a 45-member home-based church, is coordinating efforts within Bartholomew and Jennings counties to obtain new, unwrapped toys and money for children ages newborn to 18.

“One lesson we learned from last year is that we can’t do it all ourselves,” West said. “This year, more people outside the church are giving us manpower.

The Outreach stepped in to coordinate the program nine weeks before Christmas last year, recruiting 15 area drop-off locations.

With far more preparation time this year, 39 drop-off locations were secured, from stores and factories to a dentist’s office, where toy donations are being accepted, West said.

About 80 businesses are providing some form of assistance to the local Toys For Tots campaign. While the Toys R Us retail chain has long been a corporate sponsor, Walmart, Kirlin’s Hallmark and Chicago’s Pizza are also lending support this year, West said.

From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, the McDonald’s restaurant at 611 Third St. will donate 20 percent of its receipts to the Toys For Tots campaign, West said.

Those dropping off a new toy at 240sweet Artisan Foodworks, at 9600 U.S. 31 in Taylorsville, will receive a free bag of gourmet marshmallows during this year’s campaign.

New businesses selling paper trains, where donations are received and a train with the donor’s name is posted, include Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt in The Commons, as well as Major’s True Value Hardware in Hope, West said.

Behind-the-scenes, Columbus businessman Tom Wetherald agreed to provide free storage for donated toys, West said.

In Bartholomew County, Toys For Tots is one of several charitable holiday drives that include:

Columbus Firemen’s Cheer Fund

Hope Cops Christmas for Kids

Love Chapel’s Food Assistance Program

Salvation Army Angel Tree Program

Shop With A Cop, sponsored by the local Fraternal Order of Police

All of these programs work in conjunction with Bartholomew County 211 to ensure no individual or group attempts abuse by seeking assistance from multiple charities, West said.

While relatively new in the Columbus area, Toys For Tots has worked with the Jennings County Coordinating Council and township trustees in the North Vernon area for the past four years.

Donating money to Toys for Tots

Monetary donations to the Toys For Tots program in Bartholomew and Jennings counties can be made online. Here’s how.

  • Go to Toys For Tots.org
  • Click “Find Your Local Toys For Tots Program” and enter Indiana, followed by either Bartholomew or Jennings.
  • Once you are taken to the local page, click on “Make a Donation” under the Give and Receive heading.

Telephone inquiries may be made to 812-603-3126 or 812-343-8648.

Questions should be emailed to toysfortotsoutreach@gmail.com.

Drop off locations

Columbus

  • Aaron’s Furniture
  • Anytime Fitness
  • AutoMobile Diagnostics
  • Bartholomew County REMC
  • Beauty Room
  • Beazer Homes
  • Berkshire Hathaway
  • Canterbury Apartments
  • CERAland
  • Chicago’s Pizza
  • Culligan Water
  • Dorel Industries
  • Faurecia (Gladstone Plant)
  • Hamilton National Title
  • Jerry Rinehart DDS
  • Koorsen Fire & Security
  • Menard’s
  • Malone Workforce Solutions
  • Mariah
  • Nugent Sand Company
  • Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt
  • Parkside Court
  • Pawlus Dental
  • Premise Health (Cummins Livewell)
  • Renaissance Dental
  • St. Paul Lutheran Church
  • 240sweet
  • U Craft Me Up
  • Viewpoint Books
  • Walgreens (Jonathan Moore Pike and Beam Road)
  • YoMaMa Frozen Yogurt

Hope

  • Dollar General
  • Willow Leaves of Hope

Edinburgh

  • Gillman’s Home Center
  • Toys R Us

North Vernon

  • Bright Now Dental
  • CVS
  • German American Bank
  • Furniture and Things
  • Hypnotic Hair Salon
  • Orscheln Farm and Home
  • TCC Verizon
  • Walgreens
Author photo
Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.