Volunteers ensure joy and Toys for Tots
Back and forth they went into the half-acre of toys, a moment later returning with bags of holiday goodies during the annual Toys for Tots distribution drive.
Up and down the stairs, volunteers from the Nevada Hispanic Services, helpers from throughout the community and the Marines lent their time and legs Saturday to the cause that gives children who might not otherwise receive a present at all a chance to celebrate the joys of Christmas.
Pfc. Vicente Coronado and Pvt. Jesus Novoa-Anaya of Dayton, fresh out of boot camp and on 10-day leave from Camp Pendleton, Calif., carried tons of bags full of toys from the Nevada Appeal office on Mallory Way for parents already holding armfuls of children.
The streamlined, completely volunteer effort distributed some $21,000 worth of toys to approximately 700 tots in an affair that began at around 7:30 a.m. Saturday and continues today.
Coordinators ran around in the controlled chaos, making coffee, directing pedestrian traffic and keeping things running smoothly.
Raul Betancourt, teen coordinator for Nevada Hispanic Services, said he was enjoying seeing all the smiling children. He’s been with the NHS for only a couple months, but finds it fulfilling.
“It keeps me out of trouble,” he said. Then added, “It keeps the kids out of trouble, too.”
To make the work easier, thousands of SpongeBob SquarePants dolls, baseballs, Barbie dolls and toy motorcycles had already been divided into gender and age group.
Dave Wyble, head coordinator for the area and a retired Marine, estimated more than 400 man-hours had gone into the process, starting in October.
“Carson Ford has been really good to us this year,” he said. “Rick’s Cafe. The Nevada State Railroad Museum. Lowe’s donated $2,900 so we could buy more toys. Even the Timbers Bar came up with 13 bikes. I’d say things are definitely running smoother than last year.”
Bikes were in short supply this year. The requests for them were more than twice the number available. A raffle system had to be created.
Veteran Marines Jim Morticai, Kelly Mendova and Bob Delaski were among the retired military on hand, keeping things in order and working the desks.
Delaski explained the process. “Most of the stuff is already bagged up with a name on it. A runner will go in and retrieve it. We usually try to give three toys per child, but if the bag looks a little small, we might add some more toys.”
Among those helping out from the Nevada Hispanic Services were Adriana Ruiz, 13; Zuleika Jimenez, 13; Estefania Chavez, 13; Cristina Lobato, 13, Magali Maciel, 15; Diana Buenrostro, 17; Rucio Lopez, 16; and Florencio Lopez, 18.
Contact reporter Peter Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1215.