Toys for Tots ‘takes off’

Published 8:34 pm Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Hampton Roads Radio Control club brought out dozens of pilots, including Walter Wilson and Rob McLaurin, to fly in its fourth annual Toys for Tots “fun fly.” The event collected more than 230 toys for Toys for Tots. Below, John Woleben, coordinator of Toys for Tots in Suffolk, and David Haywood, president of the Hampton Roads Radio Control Club, helped carry boxes full of toys.

Pilots came from miles around and spectators filled the lot by Lone Star Lakes to watch as dozens of planes took to the skies on Saturday at the Hampton Roads Radio Control club’s fourth annual “fun fly.”

But, the day was about more than fun and flying.

The event raised nearly $1,500 and 231 toys for Toys for Tots, for which pilots were asked and spectators were encouraged to bring a toy or monetary donation.

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“This year has been going well, and this event is one of our two large benefits this year,” said John Woleben, Suffolk Toys for Tots coordinator. “It’s great to see everyone out here, and we keep having to bring out more boxes to put more and more toys in. It’s great!”

This year’s donations set a new record for the club’s event, according to Woleben.

“We’re glad to help in any way we can,” said David Haywood, president of HRRC. “We’ve had raffle items donated from as far away as Florida and hope to be able to bring in some extra cash for the program, as well. It’s what this is all about.”

The event began four years ago when a member of the HRRC, which has about 80 members, suggested it use its resources to benefit Toys for Tots.

Last year, the organization collected several large boxes and $1,500 to donate to the charity.

“It’s always a great event,” Mills Staylor of the HRRC said in a previous interview. “Everyone always enjoys the fellowship and the planes, but the main thing we’re about on Saturday is raising money and toys for Toys for Tots to bring kids Christmas.”

Staylor estimated that the group has collected nearly $5,000 to donate to the charity.

This year’s event drew more than 40 pilots who brought out their planes and donations on Saturday.

The Toys for Tots effort has been under way in Suffolk for more than 40 years.

For years the Suffolk News-Herald’s Cheer Fund collected funds to purchase toys, and additional toys were donated to give to families in the community. A few years ago, the US Marine Corps Reserves Toys for Tots program joined the effort and provides additional monetary and toy donations.

The Toys for Tots effort this year is expected to collect 5,000 toys to give to area children this Christmas.

The Cheer Fund has raised $3,650 so far this year.

To donate to the Cheer Fund and Toys for Tots effort in Suffolk call 539-3437 or visit Suffolk News-Herald offices at 130 S. Saratoga St.