Toys for Tots kicks off in Oxford

Published 10:20 am Wednesday, October 12, 2016

While fall has barely made its way into Oxford, local and national organizations have already begun getting ready for Christmas to make sure no child is left without something special under the tree.

Toys for Tots is a national organization run by the U.S. Marines each year with help of local volunteers who help organize toy and donation drives. The national program receives donations each year from large corporations and distributes promotional material to the local nonprofit organizations who work with their communities.

This year, the Marine Corps League Detachment No. 1431 in Oxford, under the leadership of retired marine Gene Hays, is holding events to support the annual project. Hays is also the Toys for Tots area coordinator for Lafayette, Yalobusha, Panola, Pontotoc and Union counties.

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The Marine Corps Detachment has made Toys for Tots its annual charity.

“We’re going to be doing fundraisers for Toys for Tots,” he said.

This Saturday, the Marine Corps Detachment will be kicking off its first fundraiser at the Oxford Community Market at the old armory pavilion on Bramlett Boulevard and University Avenue. They will be selling hot dog and hamburger plates for $5. The funds will go directly to Toys for Tots to be used to purchase toys for this area. A toy donation box will also be there for those who wish to donate a new, unwrapped toy for local children.

Local businesses can participate by applying online at to request a toy collection box to be dropped off at their business. Monetary donations can also be made online.

Those applying to receive toys for children birth through 14 years old, must apply online where they can locate the Lafayette County program.

“No applications will be accepted over the phone,” Hays said. “Those without internet service are encouraged to go to the local library to use their computers to apply.”

Applicants will then need to mail copies of proof of receiving government assistance, like SNAP benefits, WIC or Medicaid, and copies of their children’s birth certificates.

Deadline for applications is Nov. 21.

Other organizations can also hold fundraisers for Toys for Tots by working with Hays.

Hays said this year’s distribution spot has not been finalized but instructions for families picking up toys will be sent to all the families whose applications have been approved. Distribution day is slated for Dec 17.

Collection day is slated for Dec. 17.

Each child will receive at least two toys.

As toys are picked up from collection boxes, or businesses, they’re taken to the warehouse and separated by gender and age group.

“Once we get an application approved, we’ll marry them with the toys we’ve collected,” Hays said. “If we have more applications than toys, the national Toys for Tots will send us the number of toys we need, so no child goes without.”

Batteries are also provided.

“This way a child can open their present and play with it right away,” he said.

Those wishing to help hand out the toys on collection day can sign up at the Toys for Tots website to volunteer.

Last year, the local Toys for Tots gave out toys to 120 families.

“This year, I expect five times that number,” Hays said. “That’s our goal.”