• 81°

Toys for Tots campaign in full swing

With the goal of providing toys to children who would not otherwise receive a gift at Christmas, the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves created the Toys for Tots program in 1991.

Warren County Toys for Tots Coordinator Takita Selvy said the local effort has been ongoing for five years and began where many charitable efforts begin; a church.

Selvy said she got involved with Toys for Toys through her church, Word Church of Vicksburg.

“We’ve been doing it for five years now,” said Selvy. “My pastor, (Bishop Oscar L. Davis) knew someone that had been doing Toys for Tots, and he has always been a lover of children and always wanted to be involved with Toys for Tots, but had not had a contact.

“But when the opportunity presented itself, we hit the ground running with it.”

Selvy serves as the local Toys for Tots coordinator as well as the coordinator for Warren and Claiborne, counties. 

Jacquelin Brown works with Selvy as the assistant to coordinate  in Claiborne County and Warren County, while Valarie Quinn is the coordinate for  Jefferson and Adam counties.

To collect toys, the program sets out white boxes at various locations and invites the public to donate new, unused toys.

This year, more than 30 boxes have been placed at different locations in town, Selvy said, with toys collected going to children in their respective counties.

Toys for Tots include ages 2-to-18, and for a child to qualify for the gifts an adult must first fill out an application.

In years past, Selvy said, there have been around 1,200 applications in Warren County alone and 2,500 including all four counties. Thousands of toys are collected during each drive and with the assistance of church members, volunteers and AmeriCorps, bags are filled and distributed during the week of Christmas. 

This year, Sports Force Parks on the Mississippi is helping the program by hosting a Toys for Tots toy drive Saturday, Dec. 14 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

During the event, residents can drop off new, unused toys while enjoying train rides, hot chocolate and helping decorate Christmas Cards for U.S. Maries who are deployed around the world. Santa will also be on hand for pictures.

“It is very exciting to know you are helping so many children,” Selvy said, of the Toys for Tots program, adding, “And I think this is a great opportunity for the city of Vicksburg to come together.

Since its inception, the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation had distributed tens of millions of toys. The toy donation deadline is Friday, Dec. 13, Selvy said.

For more information on the Toys for Tots program, call 601-885-3599 or email twc.toysfortots@gmail.com. Families can also apply to have their children helped by the program by sending information to the email address.