By Amy Kent Herald Staff Writer
The Clinton Herald
---- — CAMANCHE — Christmas is a time of joy and goodwill to all, and the men at the Camanche VFW are working diligently to assure that all the children in their community will get to experience the joy of Christmas.
Mike Fullerton and Glenn Williams, of the Camanche VFW, have worked hard since Oct. 1 getting their Toys for Tots campaign up and running, with the hopes they can make this year, their first with the organization, a strong foundation for years to come.
“We’re hoping, no, we are going to grow this program,” Fullerton said. “We need to get the numbers back up to where they belong .”
Over the past several years, participation numbers have not been as strong as Fullerton would have liked to see, so this year, he is making it his mission to make sure every child in the program gets a little Christmas.
“The slogan for Toys for Tots is ‘every child deserves a little Christmas,’ so that’s what we are attempting to do,” Fullerton said.
He and Williams have been recruiting volunteers from all over Clinton County including, Community Action of Eastern Iowa in DeWitt and RSVP in Clinton, to join together in the Toys for Tots campaign.
Fullerton said by utilizing his connections to the community, he is able to gain support by bringing the area together, instead of each rural community having their own collections, as it has been in the past.
“Before, kids were only getting toys from their own towns. When you have a smaller town there are less people to donate and less toys to give,” Fullerton said. “If we pool everything in the county together, that will give us a lot more to choose from and a lot more to distribute evenly.”
If all goes well, according to Williams, the distribution should happen the week before Christmas. Each child enrolled in the program will receive anywhere from three to five toys, from the Toys for Tots campaign, on Christmas morning.
To make sure they can reach the goal they have set for themselves, Williams has been working to recruit volunteers through the VFW and other organizations, as well as reaching out to area businesses to get involved.
“Once we start distributing the donation boxes, I will get with local sponsors to try and set up a toy drive,” Williams said. “It will be a sort of, drive-by donation drive. We will have tents set up with Marines asking for donations from people driving by. It should be pretty neat.”
Another way to generate volunteers, Williams and Fullerton will hold a public meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday, inviting anyone in the community who would like to assist in the efforts.
The Toys for Tots campaign was originally started by a United States Marine Corps Officer in Los Angeles in 1947. Now, there are 760 Toys for Tots organization branches nationwide all operated by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves.
“People often think that the donations brought to us are distributed through the foundation to the whole country, but that is not the case,” Fullerton said. “Every toy and every dollar collected in Clinton County stays in Clinton County.”