In case someone didn't get their marching orders right, Marine Toys for Tots organizers have sent out reminders for Kent County families to pick up their toys at the Greentree Shopping Center on Saturday in time for Christmas on Tuesday.
Each year, the Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots has aimed to ensure children across America could experience the magic of Santa Claus on Christmas morning by collecting new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year. Local Toys for Tots organizers then distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children.
The Central Delaware Detachment #768 Marine Corps League is responsible for Kent County, Sr. Vice Commandant George Weiss said.
The Central Delaware Detachment of Marines has been busy for most of the final week before Christmas getting toys assigned to families. On Wednesday, Weiss, Sr. Vice Commandant Ralph Willis and Willis' wife, Dot, were busy placing Barbie dolls, CAT trucks, basketballs and all kinds of other toys into black, labeled trash bags.
And they would continue right up through Saturday, said Weiss, of Harrington.
The organization of toys was based on the information people submitted, including their address and the number, age and gender of children, Weiss said. His wife, Sharon, then input all of that information and assigned each family a number and instructions to show up at the old Blockbuster off Greentree Shopping Center just off Del. Route 8 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Saturday. Jon Anstine of JBA Greentree Properties provided the location this week for free.
"They'll be totally distraught and crying because they had to come here and pick up a bag of toys," said Willis, of Milford. "They'll say, I'm down this year. But, hopefully, next year I'll have a job and I'll make a donation."
Conversely, sometimes a family's luck changes and it no longer needs the toys, Weiss said. That happened with a woman recently who's financial situation changed. She told Weiss he could give the toys to another family, which he appreciated much.
As of Wednesday, there were still some families who had not confirmed they were coming on Saturday, Weiss said. Inevitably, some toys would be left over.
"People will walk in off the street and if they convince you they need it you give it to them," he said.
But Weiss and Willis enjoy helping children.
"It's not the kids' fault that there was a hardship for one reason or another," Weiss. "I just want to make sure the kids get toys.
"I was fortunate. I went straight out of [Caesar Rodney] high school into the military. I used my GDD when I got out. I did well working hard and I just want to give back," said Weiss, who worked at Playtex.
Page 2 of 2 - All told, about 1,800 families signed up for help, he said.
Many of the toys came from national sponsors, including Toys R Us and UPS, as well as scores of local businesses and organizations, including Lions Club, Knights of Columbus, Dover Air Force Base and Dover High School Junior Air Force ROTC, Weiss said.
"The list goes on and on and on," he said.