The time has come for the Madison County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) to begin their fifth annual Toys for Tots toy drive, sponsored by the United States Marine Corps (USMC), to benefit children and families in Madison County this Christmas season.
The Toys for Tots program originated in the 1940s as a program implemented by the USMC Reserve. The program's mission is to collect new, unwrapped toys leading up to and during the holiday season. The toys will be distributed as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children in the community in which the campaign is conducted.
Since its inception, more than 566 million toys have been placed under a Christmas tree for more than 258 million children.
For five years, Madison County Sheriff and USMC veteran Ben Stewart, as well as coordinator and MCSO employee Tammy Olive have committed themselves – not just during a portion of the year, but throughout the entire year – to ensure Christmas for children in Madison County. Boxes are now being set up around the county for the community to donate items that could change a life forever.
"No matter how rich or how poor you are, these kids – Christmas is just an expectation," said Sheriff Stewart. "Kids really hope to have things at Christmas." Sheriff Stewart also added that Toys for Tots sends MCSO items to distribute as well, which, he describes as "pretty legitimate stuff!"
With the assistance of Edward Meggs, Madison County Community Bank President; and Kim Brandies, you too, can be a part of instilling Christmas spirit in the households of many just by donating to the program. Suggestions for toys include: bats, balls, gloves, backpacks, wallets, purses, books, radio-controlled cars, cosmetics, bath gift sets, dolls and board games.
Toys may be dropped off in donation boxes at the MCSO, located at 2364 US Hwy. 90, in Madison. You may also donate toys to Madison County Community Bank, located at 301 E Base St., in Madison; Madison City Hall, located at 321 SW Rutledge St., in Madison; and Dollar General, located at 655 E Base St., in Madison.
Closer to Christmas, collected toys will be distributed to families in the area. A time and date is to be announced.
"We can't do this program without the community," said Sheriff Stewart. "We need the community's help to make this program work. We are very, very good stewards of who gets these toys. We make sure it's all legitimate, but without community help, we can't do the program."
The MCSO will begin accepting applications for needy families beginning on Friday, Nov. 1, through Thursday, Nov. 21. This is a strict deadline, and multiple documents will be needed such as social security cards, birth certificates, proof of residency in Madison County and a valid Photo ID card. Applications will not be accepted beyond Thursday, Nov. 21.
For more information or if you would like to give a monetary donation, call MCSO's Tammy Olive at (850) 973-4151.