Kristin FinneyThe Valdosta Daily Times
VALDOSTA — With Christmas less than a month away, families are buying presents, decorating trees and preparing for another wonderful year. Often times, in the fog of Christmas joy, it’s easy to forget that not every family will have a picture perfect Christmas, with stacks of presents tucked under their trees.
Since the 1940’s, Toys for Tots has been striving to ensure that, while every family might not have the perfect Christmas, most children will be able to open at least one present during the holiday season.
Toys for Tots of Valdosta will be collecting toys this year until Dec. 20.
Collection sites can be found all around town in major retailers and small businesses. Some of the drop off points include: both WalMarts, Big Lots, Dollar General stores, Family Dollar stores, Colony Bank, Toys R Us, Moody Air Force Base, the Marines Office, Bank of America, and many others.
For 20 years, John Gates has helped lead the Toys for Tots collection in Valdosta. This year, he is in charge of the collections for five counties.
Between the five counties that Gates serves, Toys for Tots donates gifts to nearly 49,000 children.
There is a misconception among some donators that the gifts donated to Toys for Tots are given to children in lager cities such as Albany.
“People that are trying to get more toys for other toy collection programs have gone into businesses that collect for Toys for Tots and stated that the toys we collect are going to Albany, and that is completely not true. There has not been a single toy leave Lowndes County, or any of the counties that I serve, since 2005. Let me reassure you, these toys are not leaving Lowndes County,” said Gates.
Toys collected in Lowndes County are stored in a warehouse in Valdosta. They are then distributed to the schools by the Division of Family and Children Services.
Toys for Tots collects gifts for children of all ages.
Some of the most needy ages that receive the least amount of donations are from 0-2 years old and 10-15 years old. They collect for both boys and girls. Toys that are donated cannot be wrapped.
If you are interested in finding out more about Toys for Tots of Valdosta or finding where the toy drop off locations are, please visit their website http://valdosta-ga.toysfortots.org, or call John Gates at (229)244-9064.