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Toys for Tots campaign kicks off

Nov. 05, 2012 @ 11:47 AM

HUNTINGTON -- The United States Marine Corps, Marshall University and St. Joseph Grade School came together Monday to kick off the annual Toys for Tots campaign.

Toys for Tots is a mission of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve to provide underprivileged children with toys for Christmas, along with a message of hope and motivation to grow into responsible productive citizens.

Sgt. Victor Arroyo, who is stationed at the reserve unit in Cross Lanes, said this is the third year of the partnership with St. Joseph Grade School. Although the school will only have barrels for students' families and staff, he said there is something about inspiring children to help other children.

"If you get kids involved, they get more involved than some of the adults," said Arroyo, a father of two. "It's time consuming, but I love to do it. I love to put a smile in kids' faces."

Carol Templeton, principal at St. Joseph Grade School, said the mission of Toys for Tots goes hand in hand with the school's mission to reach out to those in need. She said the school looks for local charities or organizations to sponsor each month. But Toys for Tots has always been a particularly successful one.

"Part of it is when you talk about Christmas, it speaks more volumes," Templeton said.

There are currently four sites in in the Tri-State hosting barrels to collect new, unwrapped toys: Huntington Housing Authority Family Resource Center, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Sunday, 2920 Marcum Terrace, Marvin Gray Family Center Gym, Huntington; Medicap Pharmacy, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, 4352 5th Street Road, Huntington; Sun Tan City, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday, 2957 5th Ave., Huntington; and 360 Diederich Blvd., Ashland.

Collections will be taken through Friday, Dec. 7. Arroyo said distribution will take place after all the toys are sorted and anticipates having everything done by Dec. 19.

Kelly Sweetman, director of Military and Veteran Affairs at Marshall who helped organize Monday's event at St. Joseph Grade School, said she is working with student groups that may be interested in hosting collection campaigns. And, she said employees can sign up to help sort toys after Arroyo picks them up in early December.

One fraternity has gotten involved and started manning a table in the Memorial Student Center Monday. Members of Pi Kappa Alpha will have a table there from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays throughout November, excluding Nov. 19-23, which is Thanksgiving break.

For more information about Toys for Tots, visit www.toysfortots.org.

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