With the holidays fast approaching the U.S. Marine Corps is gearing up for its annual Toys for Tots campaign, and, locally, the JC Paul Detachment of the Marine Corps League is working to help children across Knox, Laurel and Whitley Counties.
Greg Sims, Commandant of the detachment, said 2019 marks the third year for the local Toys for Tots effort. In 2017, more than 1,400 children benefitted from the program. In 2018, that number increased to 2,976.
“I wouldn’t be surprised to see that number reach 5,000 this year,” Sims said.
With that in mind, the detachment has begun its drive to collect toys and funds.
“We will need to raise about $13,000 this year,” Sims said.
In an effort to raise that money, the detachment has coordinated with several local businesses.
Old Town Grill in Corbin, London and Tazwell, Tennessee, is accepting donations through November 9.
For each donation, a cutout Toys for Tots train logo will be provided for the donor to write a message. The logo will then be attached to the restaurant wall.
Center Target Firearms and Range in London is hosting a pistol shooting competition to benefit Toys for Tots.
A shooting target for the competition is $5 and gold, silver and bronze medals will be awarded in male and female classes.
The competition will run through October 26.
Texas Roadhouse in London is offering a 10 percent donation for every diner that present the Toys for Tots coupon between 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Monday.
The coupon may be found in the October 9 edition of The News Journal.
Donations to benefit the local campaign may also be made through the national Toys for Tots website.
By clicking on the “Find your local campaign” link, you may find the donation button to ensure it reaches the area.
“Right now, fundraising is more important than toys,” Sims said, explaining that while it is great to get the toys, it can leave the detachment short on toys for a specific age group.
In addition, the campaign must have someplace to store the toys.
While the national organization does supply some toy s to the local campaigns, Sims said it is not always the right toys.
“We don’t always have the right toys in the right spots,” Sims said. “Having funds on hand allows us to secure the correct toys for a specific age group.”
More information about the local campaign is available on the Marine Corps League – JC Paul Detachment – Whitley County, Kentucky Facebook page.