Local Fire Department Gears Up for 32nd Annual Toys for Tots Program

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Photo from the toy drive in 2014

Murfreesboro Fire & Rescue Department (MFRD) is celebrating 32 years of helping children through the Toys for Tots program.

This year's registration will be conducted Monday through Friday, November 16-20 from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., and Saturday, November 21 from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at Patterson Park Community Center, 521 Mercury Blvd., Murfreesboro. Anyone wishing to register for toys for their children shall bring with them to the registration a photo ID, proof of address, each child's birth certificate, proof of guardianship and proof of hardship (evidence of government assistance or free and reduced lunch program, etc.). The giveaway will be held on Saturday, December 19 with the location, times, and details given out at the registration. You MUST BE PRE-REGISTERED and have avalid ticket for each child in order to participate in the 2015 toy giveaway.

People wishing to donate toys may do so by dropping new, unwrapped toys off at any business with a designated Toys for Tots box or at any of MFRD's nine fire stations.

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Although the program has been very fortunate to have members of the community, churches, and businesses volunteer each year, there is always room for more assistance.

"I would like to invite anyone that can offer their assistance to volunteer for this year's event," said MFRD's Toys for Tots Representative Michael Bartlett. "I guarantee you will have fun and enjoy the fellowship, and most of all, your heart will be filled with the happiness that you bring to the children."

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Bartlett said volunteers are needed from 5:00 pm until 7:00 pm Monday, December 7 through Friday, December 11 and Monday, December 14 through Friday, December 18. Volunteers are also needed from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm on the date of the giveaway (December 19). Volunteers will be decorating the site and sorting toys into gender and age specific group. If you would like to volunteer, request drop off boxes for your business or organization, or learn more about the program contact the organization at toysfortotsrc@gmail.com.

HISTORY OF TOYS FOR TOTS

Toys for Tots began in 1947 when Retired Marine Corps Major Bill Hendricks and a group of Marine Reservists in Los Angeles collected and distributed 5,000 toys to needy children. The idea actually came from Bill's wife, Diane, in the Fall of 1947. Diane handcrafted a Raggedy Ann doll and asked Bill to deliver the doll to an organization which would give it to a needy child for Christmas. Bill determined that no such group existed so Diane asked Bill to start one, and he did.

The 1947 pilot program was so successful that the Marine Corps adopted Toys for Tots in 1948 and expanded it to a nationwide campaign. The Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program has distributed more than 370 million toys to more than 173 million needy children in the past 67 years. The initial objective remains the hallmark of the program still today, to "bring the joy of Christmas to America's needy children."

MFRD INVOLVEMENT

MFRD became involved with Toys for Tots in 1983 when Ms. Rose Yost established Rutherford County Miles of Dimes which soon evolved into the current Toys for Tots. Ms. Yost asked for help from the fire department and MFRD gladly provided support.

Since the beginning of the program in Murfreesboro, MFRD has helped by distributing boxes, collecting toys and monetary donations from local donor businesses, and handing out toys to children the day of the giveaway. Ms. Yost retired in 2004 and MFRD continued to work with local businesses and civic groups to support the program.

Since 2009, the program has assisted an average of 1,050 children per year.

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Ashley McDonald, Murfreesboro Fire, Murfreesboro news, Toys, Toys for Tots
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