‘There is a great need’; Marines veterans kick off Christmas toy drive for Southern Utah’s underprivileged kids

Marines detachment members Jerry Harris and Stephen Handy greet shoppers during a "Toys for Tots" donation drive at a Walmart store in St. George, Utah, Dec. 8, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Marines of Utah Dixie Detachment 1270, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Stationed at both Walmart stores in St. George, the Marines of Utah Dixie Detachment 1270 took up positions Saturday at each store entrance to encourage shoppers to donate toys and other gifts for the “Toys for Tots” program.

Marines Gene Rose and Gene Wright discuss the “Toys For Tots” program with a shopper at a Walmart store in St. George, Utah, Dec. 8, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Marines of Utah Dixie Detachment 1270, St. George News

Standing in their red and gold Marine Corps League uniforms, they served as a visual reminder to shoppers that the program provides a major service to Southern Utah families. Many people chose to donate money if not toys, which helps the program fill the gaps.

Last year, the detachment helped deliver about 14,000 toys and gifts to Southern Utah area children, program coordinator and U.S. Marine Corps veteran Rick Massey said in a press release issued by the detachment. In addition to toys, about 12,000 books were distributed to over 4,000 families.

However, this year the need may be greater than ever, with more families applying for help. The program is still actively looking for donations.

“There is a great need for gifts in the teenage range,” Massey said, explaining that people are naturally motivated to pick up toys for younger kids but often don’t think about things like personal grooming items, makeup kits and electronic devices for older youth.

Marines detachment members Patrick Curtis and Clyde Johnston stack toys as shoppers fill collection boxes at a Walmart store in St. George, Utah, Dec. 8, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Marines of Utah Dixie Detachment 1270, St. George News

Toy donations can be placed in a drop-off box at the St. George News headquarters in the Canyon Media Center, 3143 S. 840 E. #100, just off Brigham Road in St. George. To find other drop-off box locations or to make a monetary donation, visit the Washington County Toys for Tots program website.

The Utah Dixie Detachment also coordinates with 99.9 KONY Country’s “Coins For Kids,” a fundraising program dedicated to providing Christmas for disadvantaged children in Washington County.

Coins for Kids president Carl Lamar said in a previous St. George News story that everyone who gets involved in the program is overwhelmed by the holiday spirit they feel.

“They love doing it, and they keep coming back every year,” he said.

Read more: KONY’s Coins for Kids set to spread Christmas joy one smile at a time; seeks applicants and volunteers

Donation and volunteer opportunities for Coins for Kids can be found at the program’s website.

Email: jwitham@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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1 Comment

  • utahdiablo December 19, 2018 at 10:03 pm

    I had read here a week or two ago, where two of the “Toys for Tot’s” trailers full of new donated toys had been broken into?….with as much “free warehouse space” here all around St George, why aren’t these trailers being parked inside a building until these toys can be given out?…Utah has the lowest ( 3% ) unemployment in the USA….the need should be getting a lot less, not more, if everyone gets off their butts and goes to work

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