2016-11-17 / Front Page

Toys for Tots to host holiday party Dec. 3

By Bill Petzold

THOMAS TWP. – Toys for Tots is committed to making sure no child goes without a new toy under the tree at Christmas time, but adults also are allowed to have a bit of fun in the process.

The eighth annual Toys for Tots Christmas Party is scheduled for 6 p.m. to midnight on Saturday, Dec. 3 at Flannigan’s, 7734 Gratiot Road in Thomas Township.

Organizer Chuck Latty said what started out as a whim and a good excuse to get together has evolved into a one-night event that raises more than $17,000 worth of gifts for local children.

“I have a friend named Kirk Ellsworth, and his birthday is Dec. 29,” Latty said. “Nine years ago we held his 50th birthday, but what do you get for a guy that’s 50, diapers and prune juice? The next year, everybody wanted to have the first anniversary of his 50th birthday party, and as I got the call I was looking at an empty Toys for Tots donation box (and the idea came to me). We filled four or five boxes that year, and it’s just grown every year since that. The people at Flannigan’s could not be more courteous, kind and helpful.”

Latty said the event is an official Toys for Toys function, and a couple Marines will be on hand in dress blues to receive all donated toys. He stressed that donated toys must be unwrapped, as the Marines need to inventory all the toys they receive before distributing them.

“And they all stay in the Saginaw area,” Latty said. “The gifts given at this party are going to kids in our community. If someone says they want to help and can’t go to the party, the box will be there a week before and a week after the party. Flannigan’s have been the best people to work with – they are an official drop-off. They have all kinds of specials and the staff is super helpful.”

Meijer has also been helping collect toys, Latty said, and hinted there is plenty more fun to be had at the upcoming party. Live music begins at 7 p.m. featuring performances by Jim Thiesen and Jim Baracco, Justin and Doug Bird, Alex Scofield and Bobby Gries.

“We have a lot of surprises and things to make it a fun event,” Latty said. “There’s a lot of hurt out there – people with their credit cards maxed out and wondering what they’re going to do for Christmas. My goal is to make sure there is not kid in Saginaw County that wakes up without a gift under the tree. Kirk and I have been doing this for eight years. It wouldn’t be possible without the support of the people in the community, especially Meijer and Flannigan’s.

Toys For Tots was founded in 1947 by Major Bill Hendricks with support of the Los Angeles Marine Corps Reserve unit. Since 1948 it has expanded nationwide as the USMCR Toys for Tots program.

The mission of local US Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots campaigns is to manage and organize volunteers to collect new, unwrapped toys and distribute those toys to less fortunate children in the community in which the campaign is conducted.

Hours vary due to the amount of toys that come in and have to be counted and sorted. The main hours for distribution for those signed up are Dec. 15 and 16, 8:45 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Dec 17 distribution runs from 9 a.m. until complete.

Robin M. Heise is the Toys for Tots coordinator for Saginaw County. More information can also be found on the local Toys for Tots web site for Saginaw County at saginaw-mi.toysfortots.org.

To help out, monetary donations can be mailed to 2326 Cooper Ave., Saginaw MI 48602. Make checks payable to “Toys for Tots.” Toy donations may include new, unwrapped toys for children ages newborn to age 12 for both female and male. Toys include books, games, puzzles and stocking stuffers, but please do not donate clothing or food items. Toy drop-off locations and other fundraisers like the party at Flannigan’s may be found at the Toys for Tots website.

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