POINT PLEASANT — An annual toy drive will provide many children with a Merry Christmas this year.
Toys for Kids is currently accepting gifts and monetary donations until Dec. 18. The toy drive is open to all of Mason County and provides gifts for children aged zero-16. Brandy Sweeney, official County Coordinator, said the group is unique because they cover the largest age gap in the country.
“I wouldn’t know what to do if I didn’t shop for an additional 200 children each year,” said Sweeney. “My parents told me I may not always have money to give, but I can give my time. I feel as if it’s one of the reasons I’m here is to give to others.”
Since 2007, Sweeney has been the official County Coordinator, but has been involved with this project since she was a child as a toy tester. Toys for Kids began as a service project for Point Pleasant’s Jaycee. Once the business went under, members of the project continued it on as Toys for Tots. Later the name was changed to Toys for Kids as to not be confused with the Marine Corp project.
The project has no official sponsors and does not adopt families, so the project’s volunteers rely on donations from the community. Sweeney expressed they have many generous businesses, individuals, and civic minded groups who donate each year. She said without their generosity, the project would not be possible. Magic Years Daycare and Pleasant Valley Hospital are reaching out to employees to support this project this year and asking them to donate at their location.
Toys for Kids is comprised of 15 adult volunteers and 10 children toy testers. The volunteers review applications they receive from Mason County residents. They anticipate to have around 200 to 300 children each year and they purchase all of the gifts themselves and wrap them up for each family. Sweeney shared her group gives each family a contractor bag full of gifts.
“We make certain the children have toys under the tree,” said Sweeney. “When I get that message after Christmas from a mom telling me her child had the best Christmas ever, I know the hours of work the volunteers have put into it is all worth it.”
Donations can be given at People’s Bank North Branch and monetary donations can be mailed to: 2303 Jefferson Ave., Point Pleasant, WV 25550.
Erin Perkins is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing.