This weekend will be a busy one for our local area. Besides the Kennett and Cardwell Christmas Parades, the annual Toys for Tots pickup will also be held.
According to Alyce Bryant, Toys for Tots coordinator, toys will be distributed from 8 a.m., to 12 p.m., Saturday morning, Dec.15, at the Dunklin County Caring Council located at 311 Kennett Street.
As always, community businesses, organizations and area schools as well, have jumped on board to participate this year. Included in that list of participants are Noranda Aluminum in New Madrid, Mo., the Kennett Jaycees, the Kennett Public Schools, Cooter, Mo., Schools and the South Pemiscot Schools, and Bank of the Bootheel in Steele, Mo.
There have also been local pageants held where the admission price was an unwrapped toy. Also participating were local businesses who bought the choo choo train cut outs for a $1 and displayed them in their place of business.
Local businesses featuring the box drop off for the toys were Raben Tires, Dollar General Stores in Kennett, Malden, Mo., Campbell, Mo., Steele, Mo., and Caruthersville, Mo., and Familly Dollar Stores in Kennett and Steele.
The U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots program has been established for more than 50 years but in actuality the program began in 1947, when Major Bill Hendricks, with the support of members of the Los Angeles, Calif., Marine Corps Reserve Unit, collected and distributed 5,000 toys to needy children.
Due to the program's success, in 1948, the Marine Corps adopted it and expanded it nationwide. Since then, more than 402-million toys have been collected and distributed to children across the nation.
The program got its start in the local area in 2007 when Bryant instituted the program in Dunklin County. One year later, the local program distributed 1,881 toys to 955 children in Dunklin and Pemiscot Counties. In 2010, the number of families served was 1,618 with 4,487 toys being passed out.