'Tis the season for toys and tots

Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal Valerie Perkins has been named the new coordinator for the Carson City area Toys for Tots program.

Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal Valerie Perkins has been named the new coordinator for the Carson City area Toys for Tots program.

As the official Christmas shopping madness begins Friday, so does the kickoff for the annual Toys for Tots toy drive.

Two large trucks, complete with a dozen living Marine action figures from the U.S. Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport, Calif., will be at Wal-Mart in the Clear Creek shopping center from 7-11 a.m. Friday to collect toys donated by shoppers.

"The dozen Marines who will be here Friday are donating their time," said Valerie Perkins, Carson area Toys for Tots coordinator. "I really appreciate what they're doing."

It is through the generosity of strangers many children in the area will have a Christmas.

"Everybody has this desire to help and give and do something to feel good about themselves at the holidays," she said.

"Toys for Tots makes it convenient for people to do that by giving toys, cash donations or volunteering their time. It's strangers helping strangers - an instinct. This project fills that need."

The Marines, under the command of Sgt. Maj. Michael Redmyer, will be accepting toys at Wal-Mart from 7-11 a.m., where a live remote with a DJ from The Bandit, 92.9 FM, will be broadcast. From Wal-Mart the Marines go the Nevada State Railroad Museum to collect toys donated there. Anyone bringing a new, unwrapped toy 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the museum will receive a free steam train ride.

The toys are then taken to the Nevada Appeal warehouse where they will be stored and sorted until they are distributed to area families. The Marines will have lunch at the Casino Fandango before heading back to Bridgeport.

Families in need of assistance may call a designated phone line for Toys for Tots - 443-7072. Taking calls is Miriam Sills, who is bilingual, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. beginning Monday. The last day to call and request toys is Dec. 15.

Sills is the child safety specialist at the Ron Wood Family Resource Center.

"I have been here almost a year," Sills said. "I will be trying to do both my job and take the toy calls."

For Perkins, her biggest challenge as first-year coordinator is getting the program exposed to the public.

"The volunteers working with me said it will be the biggest (collection) they've ever done," Perkins said. "We have toy drives scheduled every weekend before distribution just to get it more exposed."

In 1948, the U.S. Marine Corps adopted the Toys for Tots program expanding it nationwide as the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves program. Over the years, spokespersons for the program have included John Wayne, John Glenn, Tim Allen, Johnny Carson, Clint Eastwood, Nancy Reagan and Barbara Bush.

In 2005, 505 families were helped in Carson City; 111 in Douglas County, and 55 families in Mound House and Dayton.

"It's nice to know some family's going to have an enhanced Christmas experience from what volunteers and I have done," Perkins said.

• Contact Rhonda Costa-Landers at rcosta-landers@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1223.

Who to call

WHAT: Toys for Tots

WHO: Miriam Sills

CALL: 443-7072

2006 Toys for Tots Drop Off Locations:


Wal-Mart, in the Clear Creek shopping center

7-11 a.m.


Nevada State Railroad Museum, 2180 S. Carson St.

10 a.m.-4 p.m.

2006 Toys for Tots drop-off locations

During individual business' hours:


Harley-Davidson 2749 N. Carson St.

Les Schwab Tires Center, 3219 N. Carson St.

United Blood Services, 256 E. Winnie Lane

Wal-Mart, 3200 Market St.


Carson City Toyota, 3659 S. Carson St.

Applebee's, 3300 S. Carson St.

Carson Lanes bowling center, 4600 Snyder Lane

Casino Fandango, 3800 S. Carson St.

Les Schwab Tires Center, 3020 S. Carson St.

Wal-Mart, in the Clear Creek shopping center

Nevada State Railroad Museum, 2180 S. Carson St.


Carson City Library, 900 Roop St.

Piñon Plaza, 2171 Highway 50 East

SlotWorld, 3879 Highway 50 East


First American Title, 1213 S. Carson St.

Grocery Outlet, 1831 N. Carson St.

The Timbers, 124 E. Eight St.

Dr. Getas Office, 631 N. Division St.


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