Yuma's Best 2012: Toys for Tots
Best Charity Event
For the past holiday season, the Marine Corps’ Toys for Tots program distributed thousands and thousands of toys to less-fortunate children in the Yuma area.
But, says Gunnery Sgt. Merwin McIntyre, the coordinator of the program in Yuma, the Marines couldn’t have done that without the help of the community.
The Toys for Tots program partners Yuma-based Marines and the area’s residents, businesses and other organizations in annual campaigns to collect new, unwrapped toys for needy youths, as well funds to buy toys.
Respondents in Yuma’s Best, the Yuma Sun’s annual reader poll, picked the Toys for Tots as the area’s Best Charity in 2012.
For the 2012 Christmas season, Toys for Tots took in more than 17,000 toys and distributed more than 20,000, all of which went to Yuma-area children and youths who ranged in age from infants to teens, said McIntyre.
The 2012 campaign began in October, with Marines representing all of the units and squadrons at the Marine Corps Air Station joining with businesses, nonprofit groups, area recreational vehicle parks and other organizations in fundraising events and activities to benefit the toy drive in the Yuma area.
"They (businesses and other participants) donate to the kids and hang out with some pretty cool Marines," McIntyre said. "But the ultimate goal is always the kids."
Among the participants in the 2012 toy drive whom he lauded were dancers from Kofa High School, who gave half of the money earned at a pageant to Toys for Tots. Fisher’s Landing and Lake Martinez also staged a large fundraiser to benefit Toys for Tots.
"The RV parks are awesome as well," he said.
In addition, numerous businesses voluntarily served as collection sites where the area residents could drop off new Christmas gifts they had purchased for underprivileged youths.
The program worked with the Salvation Army and Crossroads Mission in Yuma to select the recipients on the basis of their financial need, McIntyre explained.
"It’s all about the kids. It’s all about the kids having something to unwrap on Christmas, and we couldn’t do it without the community."
The 2012 holiday season was his first coordinating the program for the Marine Corps in Yuma or any other city. He plans to return as coordinator for 2013, and he’s hoping to recruit more businesses and organizations to participate in the next campaign.
"I want it to grow," said McIntyre.
Businesses and other organizations wishing to get involved in the 2013 drive can do so by contacting McIntyre at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"I would really like to thank the community for the support they gave to the program last year, and I look forward to working with (them) again."