Toys for Tots
CHAMBERSBURG, PENNSYLVANIA (Chambersburg Public Opinion) - Local Marines believe they have stopped the theft of toys from their Toys for Tots donation boxes, but they estimate several hundred were taken before the thefts were discovered.
Toys for Tots coordinator Tom Hazlett said the thefts stopped after a Public Opinion story last week revealed that two thieves had gone into stores, identified themselves as Toys for Tots representatives, and emptied the donation boxes.
After learning that four boxes -- two in Chambersburg and two in Waynesboro -- had been emptied in that manner last week, Hazlett asked volunteers to personally touch base with managers at stores with donation boxes.
Volunteers asked stores to not release the toys to anyone without obtaining positive identification, including a driver's license. It was then discovered that the number of donation boxes emptied by the thieves had doubled.
"Hopefully merchants requiring identification will deter anyone who is thinking about stealing these toys meant for the community's needy children," he said.
In addition to asking for identification before letting anyone empty the donation boxes, volunteers have been asked to check the boxes frequently.
Despite the loss of so many toys, Hazlett said, he feels the Marine Corps League will be able to meet the needs of the 2,500 to 3,000 needy children in Franklin and Fulton counties who will depend on the Toys for Tots program this year.
"People have been very generous," Hazlett said of the public's response to the toy thefts.
He said people brought toys to the Marine Corps League's Chambersburg headquarters on Grant Street, many of them saying they had already put toys in the donation bins but wanted to "do a little something extra."
As of Monday, the Marines had transferred about 2,000 toys to the Toys for Tots storage center for sorting and pairing with names and toy requests. More are needed if every child on the organization's list is to get toys for Christmas.
Hazlett said he believes the measures being taken by Toys for Tots volunteers and area merchants make it safe for donors to leave toys in the donation bins.
For those who would prefer to make sure their donations are reaching the children who need them, toys can also be taken to the Marine Corps League headquarters on Grant Street, or to the Marine recruiter's office at Chambersburg Mall.
Hazlett said toys for 3- to 10-year-olds are especially scarce, and several special events are planned for this weekend at which toys may be donated.
The first is at the "Humbug" production Friday and Saturday nights at Capitol Theatre in downtown Chambersburg. Members of the Marine Corps League will be at the theater from 6 to 8 p.m. to greet people. They will also collect toys and assist with children's photos with Santa. (Those who donate a toy will get a free Santa photo.)
Marines and members of the Marine Corps League will spend all day Saturday at Santa's Village at Your Barber Shop, 512 Lincoln Way East, to collect donations to Toys for Tots. Last year, Kevin Hicks, owner of Your Barber Shop, collected eight boxes of toys, and he wants to double that number this year.
The event will also feature the Carolers from Chambersburg Community Theatre during the morning. Photos will be taken with Santa in return for a donated toy.
On Sunday, the Toys for Tots drive will end at Chambersburg Mall, starting at 10 a.m. Throughout the day, volunteers will collect new and unwrapped toys as well as donations. Toys for Tots collection boxes will be stationed throughout the mall and a truck will be located at the mall's theater entrance. The Marines and Marine Corps League hope to fill the truck with toys by the end of the day.
The collection boxes at area businesses will be emptied for the last time and removed early next week. Toy distribution day for children on the Toys for Tots list is Dec. 19.
Copyright 2014 Chambersburg Public Opinion
Updated 1448 days ago Article ID# 773039
Toys for Tots