WINSTON COUNTY - The need keeps growing, while the donations keep dwindling.
Donations are not matching the need, as the amount of toys for the annual Toys for Tots holiday giveaway, has nearly been depleted, leaving organizers to start from scratch for this year’s drive.
The mission of Toys for Tots, sponsored by the Winston County Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 51, remains the same--to help less fortunate children across Winston County have a merry Christmas.
Yet organizers are desperately needing the public’s help in order to secure enough donations to make that Christmas merry.
Last year, Toys for Tots assisted 300 children have a brighter holiday season, and organizers anticipate that number will grow even more this year.
FOP members are sending out the message to drop off a new toy or make a monetary donation at any city hall location throughout the county or at the Winston County Sheriff’s Office located in the Winston County Courthouse in Double Springs.
Although Christmas is over two months away, organizers said donations are needed now, in order to have a big enough supply for the giveaway, set Saturday Dec. 14 from 8 a.m.-noon at the Double Springs Municipal Building.
In fact, the amount of donations is so low, that organizers are only accepting donations Nov. 15-30.
Beginning Nov. 15, residents with children in need can come to any town hall location in the county or the sheriff’s office and pick up an application, which asks for the child’s name, age, address, gender and a contact number for the family.
Those applications must be turned in no later than Nov. 30, so organizers can have time to purchase the toys and divide them according to family and town, for pick up at the municipal building.
Toys for Tots will be assisting Winston County children ages 12 and under, according to Brian Kirkpatrick, president of FOP Lodge 51.
The only applications that will not be honored for the giveaway are from a child outside of Winston County or children not in the age range of 12 years and under, according to FOP members.
“We try not to turn any kid away,” said Kirkpatrick. “We are spread thin this year, monetary wise and toy wise.
“We need donations, monetary donations, toy donations. We’ve used that reserve up,” Kirkpatrick pointed out.
“We always run short, and we’ve always had to go buy extra toys the past several years,” said Kirkpatrick said.
Those donations should begin now, FOP members urge the public.
The reserve of toys has been depleted, due to more children in need coming to the giveaways, according to Kirkpatrick.
“That may hinder us this year on the amount of applications we can fill. I hope it don’t,” he said. “We’re starting from scratch this year, and I hope that doesn’t hinder us,” he said.
“Without this (giveaway), there are going to be some kids who do not get a Christmas,” Kirkpatrick pointed out. “This is all about the children, nothing else but the children, and we want the children to have the best Christmas they can have.”
Winston County Sheriff’s Investigator Jonathan Oliver, also a member of FOP Lodge 51, stressed the urgency of getting donations to help children in need.
“A lot of the less fortunate, it benefits them,” Oliver said. “It gives them more than what they normally would have, and we appreciate all of the assistance we can get.
“Anyone who is willing to help out, we would truly appreciate it, and you would be doing the county a great service,” he added.
Winston County Sheriff Tommy Moore noted that Toys for Tots is the single most important event done to help the communities in Winston County.
“There are so many people struggling to pay bills, that there is not much money for Christmas,” Sheriff Moore stated.
“So by raising money and buying toys for the kids, they have a Christmas that they once may have not had,” the sheriff continued.
“There is nothing that means more to us than to see the kids’ eyes light up when they come to pick up their toys,” Moore added.
Sheriff Moore thanked everyone involved, from the donation process of Toys for Tots all the way through the buying, sorting and distribution of the toys.
See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.