Toys for Tots receives record number of donations | NevadaAppeal.com

Toys for Tots receives record number of donations

Rhonda Costa-Landers
Appeal Staff Writer
BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Valerie Perkins, left, and Miriam Silis, talk about this year's Toys for Tots program at the Ron Wood Family Resource Center on Thursday. The program in Carson City provided more than 8,000 toys for about 500 area families at Christmas.
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The generosity of the Carson City community is alive and well as more than 8,000 toys were donated to the annual Toys for Tots program, which served more than 500 families this year.

Each child received two toys, two stocking stuffers, one stuffed animal and a game.

“I wanted to be a kid again,” said Brandy White, who organized toy drives and volunteers. It was her sixth year as a volunteer.

“It was an awesome feeling helping the families. It was very rewarding.”

Toys for Tots Area Coordinator Valerie Perkins was worried with the slow response at the beginning of the toy drive. As time went on, a large influx of toys began arriving.

“We received good quality toys and we have a lot of extra toys I am going to keep for next year,” Perkins said. “We did have to buy for the 9- to 11- year-old girls age group. They were oversighted somewhat.”

Taking all the request calls was Miriam Silis, child safety specialist at Ron Wood Family Resource Center. Silis fielded calls for three weeks, and even through the chaos of returning messages and distributing toys at the center, she is ready to help again in 2007.

“Oh yes, I’ll do it again,” Silis said. “It’s pretty rewarding doing the distribution.

“The parents are crying they are so happy their children or grandchildren are getting toys, and they say ‘thank you.’ It makes you forget about the parents who give you a bad time.”

Knowing the happiness the program brings to children is the highlight for Perkins, also.

“It really hit me just how happy these kids are with a toy,” she said. “And the generosity of the residents in Carson City.

“One couple alone brought in 75 toys to United Blood Services. It’s amazing.”

Silis recommended for the 9- to 11-year-old girls, Bratz dolls, CD players and grooming items like curling irons, makeup and shower radios.

“We did fill all bike requests,” Perkins said.

“But what I would do next year, if I were a shopper for toys, is set a budget and don’t spend more than $20 on a gift. Some gifts were high-end gifts and it makes it difficult to decide who gets that toy. It’s a suggestion.”

White said one toy request stood out in her mind. She received a call from a parent whose son was recently diagnosed with leukemia and given a limited time to live. The parent requested a bike because the son wanted to go to the Bay area and ride it on the wharf.

“She called me on Christmas day and said she took her son to the wharf and he rode the bike as long as he could before he got tired,” White said.

“She was crying, and he said ‘thank you so much.’ We made his Christmas. That was most rewarding for me. He just turned 12 years old.”

“We are ready to go for next year,” Perkins said. “And it worked out well having the Ron Wood Family Resource Center distribute the toys. It was well organized.”

Campaign a success

WHAT: Toys for Tots campaign

WHEN: 2006

FAMILIES ASSISTED: 540 (Carson City, 500+)

NUMBER OF CHILDREN RECEIVING TOYS: 3,700

NUMBER OF TOYS DONATED: 8,000-plus

WHEN: 2005

FAMILIES ASSISTED: 671 (Carson City 505; Douglas County, 111; Mound House, 55)

NUMBER OF CHILDREN RECEIVING TOYS: 2,159

TOYS DONATED: 6,631

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