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Toys for Tots collecting donations through Dec. 15

LAPLACE — For the past 10 years, Alfreda DeVare of LaPlace has helped the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots program bring the joy of Christmas to St. John the Baptist Parish’s less fortunate children.

New, unwrapped toys are being collected in cardboard “Toys for Tots” boxes through Dec. 15 at the following St. John the Baptist Parish locations: L’OBSERVATEUR, 116 Newspaper Drive in LaPlace; Dependable Mini Storage, 301 W. Airline Highway in LaPlace; East St. John Preparatory Academy, 400 Ory Drive in LaPlace; Walgreen’s, 1815 W. Airline Highway in LaPlace; St. John the Baptist Parish Government Complex, 1811 W. Airline Highway in LaPlace; Big River Food and Fuel in LaPlace; SJ NOLA, 1036 W. Airline Highway in LaPlace; and the St. John the Baptist Parish LaPlace, Reserve and Garyville Libraries.

Families must register in advance to receive toys. Registration will be available in person from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5 at Revelation Knowledge Outreach Center, located at 125 Ash Street in LaPlace.

Registration may also be completed online at docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScjypdNVsviGZwdt512d5G0d7CppY8VVWBjNJ40J40QETIvow/viewform?usp=sf_link.

A drive-thru Christmas giveaway will be held for registered participants from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 19 at East St. John Preparatory Academy, 400 Ory Drive in LaPlace.

Last year, Toys for Tots reached approximately 12,000 children across St. John the Baptist Parish, St. Charles Parish, Plaquemines Parish and Belle Chasse. According to U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots coordinators, “the gift of a shiny new toy – something that most children take for granted — means to the needy child that someone cares, that he/she hasn’t been forgotten and that Christmas hasn’t passed him/her.”

The Marines have used toys to send hope to America’s needy children since 1947. DeVare said the program was first made available locally through churches and faith organizations. Thanks to DeVare and Revelation Knowledge Outreach Center, Toys for Tots is now promoted parish-wide with help from several local businesses to reach as many children in need as possible.

“I got involved with it through my ministry because of the less fortunate kids in our community,” DeVare said, noting that there are many single parents and families living on fixed incomes in her community.

“I wanted to know what we could do to help the parents during the holidays,” she said. “That’s when I found out about the Marines Toys for Tots. I got in contact with them, and I became a partner with them. They were so small in this parish years ago. Becoming a coordinator for this parish allowed me to take it to a new level and get it into the community.”

Toys for Tots distributed 1,000 toys to 500 St. John the Baptist Parish children in 2019, according to DeVare. This allowed each child to select two toys.

Approximately 200 toys have been collected this year thus far, and DeVare anticipates at least 700 children will be registered for this year’s drive thru giveaway.

Toys for Tots brings Christmas to children of all ages, from infants to teenagers. In order to ensure children receive quality Christmas gifts, DeVare suggests donations range from $15 on up. Toys will be sorted by age and gender and thoroughly sanitized prior to distribution.

“These families are so appreciative. Some of them say they would not have been able to buy their child a toy if it were not for this toy giveaway,” DeVare said. “I would like people to know this is a great organization. If they can do anything to help, volunteer or support, they can contact me and let me know. The more people we can get to help, the more successful it will be.”
For more information, please contact DeVare at 985-287-2161 or email revelationknowledge180@yahoo.com.

Virtual donation options are available at toysfortots.org.