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Marines Toys for Tots drive in full gear
• Friday, Dec. 9 - KYMA Toy Drive, from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., front of Harkins Theatres, Yuma Palms Regional Center. In exchange for an unwrapped toy, United Yuma Firefighters will give kids free rides on a fire engine truck.
• Friday and Saturday - Precision Tree Service, 1730 W. 10th Place, will exchange bundles of wood for new, unwrapped toys from 2-5 p.m. on Friday and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday.
• Saturday, Dec. 10 - Fifth Annual Yuma County Historical Society Golf Tournament at Desert Hills Golf Club. Participants can buy mulligans in exchange for unwrapped toys.
• Monday, Dec. 12 - Yuma High's Student Council's Toys For Tots football game at 6 p.m. on Doan Field. Marines stationed at MCAS Yuma will play against senior football players.
The Marines Toys for Tots Foundation is in the middle of that “crazy time” when Christmas is fast approaching and volunteers are working hard to keep up with the toy donations and requests for toys coming in.
“Right when you think you won't make it, it comes together anyway,” quipped Sgt. Jason Tracoma, coordinator of the 2011 Marines Toys for Tots.
“We're dead in the middle of the crazy time. We have tons of requests and people coming forth (with donations),” he added.
Tracoma notes that it takes all year to prepare for the annual Marines Corps Air Station Yuma toy drive and every year it seems like an impossible task, especially with requests for toys outnumbering donations.
So far this year, the Marines have collected 8,000 toys and 12,000 requests, and they expect to receive many more requests for toys, Tracoma said.
“Last year we had 13,000 kids, the year before we had 9,000. This year we expect from 15,000 to 16,000. You see a pattern here, with the unemployment?”
But he's completely confident that every child on the list will get gifts. The Marines just received 12 pallets of donated Legos and 35,207 Scholastic books.
The community has also stepped up. Merchants are holding fundraisers, such as carwashes, and donation checks are trickling in.
This Friday the Marines are teaming up with KYMA News 11 to hold an all-day toy drive in front of Harkins Theatres at the Yuma Palms Regional Center. The Marines will be accepting unwrapped toys and/or monetary donations from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.
In exchange for unwrapped toys, United Yuma Firefighters will give kids free rides on a fire engine truck.
The next two weekends, Brian Hotchkiss of Precision Tree Service will exchange bundles of wood for new, unwrapped toys. Drop off toys at 1730 W. 10th Place on Friday from 2-5 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, call 726-8733.
“The wood is a little incentive, but it’s not about the wood, it’s about the kids,” Hotchkiss said.
The 5th Annual Yuma County Historical Society Golf Tournament at Desert Hills Golf Club on Saturday will also benefit Toys for Tots. Participants are being given the opportunity to buy mulligans in exchange for unwrapped toys.
Yuma High School's Student Council will be hosting its Toys For Tots football game Monday at 6 p.m. on Doan Field. Marines stationed at MCAS Yuma will play against current senior football players from the Yuma Union High School District.
“This game is for the less fortunate children in Yuma County who would otherwise not have any Christmas presents,” said Rigo Orta, the student council's Toys for Tots chairman.
Yumans can also drop off toys at several businesses, including all Walmarts and Starbucks.
Some local businesses have helped in other ways. For example, Lorene Becker, manager of Yuma Palms Regional Center, donated warehouse space. Yuma Insurance Company donated the $1 million insurance policy necessary to cover the space.
RV World gave a $1,000 check, and Richard Olaiz and his crew at U-Haul on East 32nd donated supplies.
Several retirees and Marines are volunteering their time, but there are still plenty of volunteer opportunities, Tracoma said. Opportunities range from making deliveries and working at the warehouse to taking lunch to the volunteers.
For more information on volunteering or donating, contact Tracoma at firstname.lastname@example.org or 804-497-9576.
To make a monetary donation online, go to http://toysfortots.org/.
If a child is in need of toys and not affiliated with a nonprofit organization, the family may show up at Crossroads Mission, 944 S. Arizona Ave., on Christmas Day from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Kids will be greeted by Santa Claus and his elves, and children will be able to pick out their own toy with Santa.
Kids and their families will not be screen or registered, according to the Marines Toys for Tots Foundation.
Mara Knaub can be reached at email@example.com or (928) 539-6856. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSMaraKnaub or on Twitter at @YSMaraKnaub.