Photo by Shawn Arrajj
Toys For TotsToys for Tots volunteer Sharon Ayers organizes toys.
Toy distribution campaign aids thousands of county children
Bob Quinn has plenty of sleepless nights in December. He is busy collecting toys and checking his list. But these toys have not been made by elves; they have been donated by kind-hearted people. Quinn’s list is not about naughty or nice, but need.
Quinn is coordinator of the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation in Montgomery County. As he sorts and distributes toys from two distribution centers, one at the Salvation Army in Conroe and the other at the Society of Samaritans in Magnolia, it is difficult for him to forget what happened to him Christmas morning when he was 5.
“It was right after World War II,” Quinn said. “For Christmas, my brother, who was 9, got four blue poker chips. That was his gift. It wasn’t until much later that the economy improved and we were doing well, but I remember how even though I wasn’t expecting anything, I was expecting Santa Claus to bring something. I felt sad for my brother.”
Quinn relates that era to the economic recession the country has recently experienced and sees similarities.
“Now I think about other kids who don’t get something,” he said. “The economy stinks. They’re lucky if one parent has a job. There’s not much money for gifts. “
There was not a program like Toys for Tots in place when Quinn was a child, but there is now.
Parents who have demonstrated a need will receive the toys a few days before Christmas.
Until then, Woodlands-area residents can drop off new, unwrapped toys at participating establishments including banks, retail businesses and all of the Montgomery County Memorial Library locations.
“Each year, library staff members reaffirm our support by helping the Marine Corps have appropriate locations to collect gifts,” said library director Jerilynn Williams said. “Both library patrons and staff members have responded generously, year after year. Recently, the more challenging economic climate appears to have been met with even greater generosity.”
Williams said while they receive book donations, patrons also donate stuffed animals, dolls, action figures, Legos, toy cars and trucks, crafts, and board games. She and Quinn agree, though, when they say there is more need for items for teenagers.
Toys for Tots was established in 1947 by a group of Marine Reservists in Los Angeles, who collected and distributed 5,000 toys. This led to more locations popping up across the nation in communities where Marine Reserve Centers were located.
Over its life span, the foundation has distributed more than 452 million toys to more than 209 million children. Last year, in Montgomery County, the program distributed three toys each to 11,071 children.
Quinn, now a father of four and grandfather of eight, is thankful for the gift of Toys for Tots.
“People in Montgomery County have been very generous,” Quinn said. “We appreciate it.”
Toys for Tots drop-off locations
- Amazing Spaces, 18250 I-45 South
- Century 21, 21 Waterway Ave., Ste. 100
- George & Cynthia Woods Mitchell Library, 8125 Ashlane Way
- Legends Sports Complex, 602 Pruitt Road
- South Regional Library, 2101 Lake Robbins Drive
- Toys R Us, 1420 Lake Woodlands Drive
- Woodlands Oriental Rug Gallery, 1640 Lake Woodlands Drive