With Halloween now in the rear view mirror, attention can shift to the year-end holidays just ahead.
And preparations are underway for families wishing to participate in Riverbank’s version of Toys for Tots, a campaign to collect and distribute toys to low income families this year.
For those wishing to register, they can call CASA del Rio at 209-869-0468 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., now until Nov. 30.
The toys will be distributed to children up to 12 years of age on Dec. 15 at the Cardozo Middle School cafeteria from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
According to officials, registration and toy pick up requirements are for Riverbank residents, with pre-registration required. The registered party must be able to be present on Dec. 15, and bring proof of name and address. They say an example could be an ID, or a utility bill.
For those who would like to donate to the program, organizers are accepting age appropriate toys, needed for those from birth up to age 12, until Thursday, Dec. 13. The donations will be accepted at all Riverbank school sites and locations throughout Riverbank. They advise contacting CASA del Rio for specific locations.
The toys can also be dropped off at the Community Toy Drive on Saturday, Nov. 17, between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. at the Save Mart parking lot, on the Oakdale Road side.
Locally, the holiday giveaway is hosted in collaboration with the Marine Corps Toys for Tots, Riverbank Unified School District, CASA. del Rio FRC, Central Valley Community Resources, and Valley Improvement Projects.
Toys for Tots began as a Los Angeles charitable effort in 1947. Major Bill Hendricks, United States Marine Corps Reserve, was inspired by his wife Diane when she tried to donate a homemade Raggedy Ann doll to a needy child but couldn’t find any organization to do so. At her suggestion, he gathered a group of local Marine reservists, who coordinated and collected some 5,000 toys for local children that year from collection bins placed outside Warner Bros. movie theaters. Their efforts were so successful that, in 1948, Toys for Tots was launched as a national campaign.
Until 1979, Marine reservists (frequently in their dress blue uniforms) and volunteers would collect and refurbish used toys. In 1980, only new toys were accepted, as reservists were no longer able to dedicate drill hours to refurbish toys, as well as legal concerns.
Noting in 1996 that many communities did not have a Marine reservist presence, the commander of the Marine Forces Reserve authorized Marine Corps League detachments and other local organizations to fill the gaps in toy collection and distribution.
As of 2016, it was reported that the Toys for Tots Program and Foundation have collected and distributed more than 512 million toys nationwide.