Fossil Rim Wildlife Center enjoys having thousands of children visit each year, and now the facility looks forward to putting more smiles on young faces.
Fossil Rim is one of several businesses in Somervell County that is now a toy collection center on behalf of Toys for Tots. Many people might be surprised to learn Toys for Tots has military roots.
“The Marines started Toys for Tots in 1947,” said Jack Parsons, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots coordinator in Hood and Somervell Counties. “They were repairing toys at first, but the program shifted to new toys. The whole point is that a new toy given to a child for Christmas means that somebody cares about them, they haven’t been forgotten and the spirit of Christmas hasn’t passed them by. Usually, Toys for Tots programs are handled by Marine Corps reservists, but we are so far away from an actual Marine base that it was more feasible for us to act as an extension of the Dallas-Fort Worth Toys for Toys program.”
Parsons represents the Marines Corps League – Comanche Peak Detachment 1297 based out of Granbury. He pointed out the benefit of the association with Dallas-Fort Worth Toys for Tots.
“Last year, we collected 1,108 toys for Hood and Somervell County,” he said. “But, we delivered over 7,800 toys in these counties. The Dallas-Fort Worth Toys for Tots campaign covers 14 counties, and pooling together all the donations in the region allowed us to have that large delivery locally.”
Parsons is pleased that Glen Rose has toy collection boxes for the first time.
“Glen Rose really stepped up this year,” he said. “We have drop boxes at Fossil Rim, Hammond’s BBQ, David’s Grocery, Brookshire’s, C6 Designs, Cleburne Propane LLC, Kwik Kar, Marilyn Kelley Farmers Insurance, Pie Peddlers, Shoo-Fly Soda Shop, Tan Tyme, Frozen Yogurt Your Way and Oakdale Park. All these businesses have different hours that may appeal to various potential toy donors. It works really well.
“The goal is to raise awareness of the need for these toys, so any business that wants to be part of the program is welcome. There are other ways to help, such as monetary donations, if a business might not have a lot of walk-in traffic.”
The support of local businesses and organizations are crucial to the success of Toys for Tots.
“We can set up events or donation centers in parking lots, but sometimes they just aren’t convenient,” Parsons said. “Local businesses can provide a convenient way for families to participate and make our job a lot easier. The Salvation Army has the Angel Tree program, and instead of trying to replace it, we try to provide toys to that program. A family that wants to help might not be able to afford to take care of an Angel, but they can afford to buy a single toy and put it in our collection box.”
There are still several weeks left to make a donation.
“Drop boxes were deployed November 1 and are available to take toy donations until December 6,” Parsons said. “All the toys will go directly to the Toys for Tots warehouse in Farmer’s Branch, where they will then fill the orders of all the charities.”
Last year, Glen Rose Baptist Church and Glen Rose ISD Christmas Express were both local distributors of Toys for Tots items.
“A charity may offer a child food and clothing, but sometimes getting toys can be tight on the budget,” Parsons said. “Charities can work through us and place a toy order based on gender and age. We try to guarantee at least three toys per child.”
Parsons mentioned a 2014 gift that remains at the forefront of his mind.
“Ellen DeGeneres made a huge donation of Legos at the end of our Dallas-Fort Worth campaign last year, and they’re now sitting in our warehouse getting ready for distribution,” he said.
A toy collection box at Fossil Rim is located at the Overlook, specifically the Nature Store, and there is also a box at the Admission Office. People can bring a new toy or purchase one at the Nature Store. Those who make a donation will be eligible to receive $5 off a Fossil Rim annual membership.
Parsons encourages generous citizens to visit the website of Comanche Peak Detachment 1297 at www.cpd1297.com. The Toys for Tots local hotline is (682) 498-3250.
“Our website allows businesses to sign up to be a drop box location, request information about holding an event or check out a continually updated list of all the drop box locations and a list of our scheduled events,” he said.
For the sake of children in need, Parsons looks forward to doing his job this holiday season.
“I don’t distribute toys directly to families or individuals,” he said. “My job is to provide the tools and support to make people aware they can get involved. For any person or business who wants to help these children, we want to help you as donors.”
-Tye Chandler, Marketing Associate