Parents receive toys for children

Published 10:21 pm Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Suffolk mother looks over the available gifts for 11- to 14-year-old boys at the Toys for Tots distribution center on Tuesday. The distribution runs through the week for pre-qualified families.

Kimberly Holloman squeezed through narrow hallways and into crowded rooms filled with toys on Monday.

One by one, she timidly chooses toys for each of her two daughters, 6 and 11 years old. Volunteers help her put the dolls and board games in a black trash bag so that they won’t see their Christmas presents when she brings them home.

“It takes every dime we have just to make it,” said Holloman, who was receiving toys provided by the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots program.

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Toys for Tots is distributing toys all this week to families who pre-qualified to receive toys. Parents were allowed to choose three toys for each child and also received stockings full of candy, small toys and hygiene products.

Holloman said she was grateful for the extra help because her income from in-home child care only pays for the bare essentials. She can’t work outside the home because one of her daughters has medical problems that often called her away when she had a job.

“I couldn’t work full time because every time I tried, they called me because she was so sick,” Holloman said.

The walls of the tiny rooms in the former office building on Holland Road are lined with tables stacked with gifts — dolls, skateboards, purses, footballs, science kits, board games, art supplies and more. The toys in each room were categorized by age- and gender-appropriateness.

Volunteers in each room familiarized themselves with the toys so they could tell parents about them quickly. Each parent also received a volunteer to guide them through each step of the process.

“All my kids are grown and moved away, so I get a kick out of doing this,” said volunteer John Faunce, who was assigned to hand out the stockings.

Another mom who came to the distribution was choosing gifts for her six children.

“I know they want a football,” said the Paul D. Camp Community College student, who did not want to be named. “I work part-time and go to school full-time, so this is a big help.”

The volunteers make the toy distribution happen, according to Salvation Army employee Janet Cowan.

“We’re fortunate to have so many volunteers this year,” she said as more helpers packed into the building.

Faunce, who has been volunteering at the distribution for four years, said so many people come to volunteer because it is so rewarding. He recounted one story of a tearful mother who said her children would not have Christmas gifts if it wasn’t for Toys for Tots.

“That makes your day,” Faunce said. “It blesses the people, but I think the people doing the work are blessed even more than those getting the gifts.”

The Suffolk News-Herald Cheer Fund supports Toys for Tots in Suffolk. To make a donation, mail a check to P.O. Box 1220, Suffolk, VA 23439-1220 or visit our office at 130 S. Saratoga St.