Young Marines, Masons partner for 'Toys for Tots'
Young Marines of Davidson County over the years has brought Christmas cheer to thousands of families through its annual Toys for Tots campaign.
With help from a community partner, the organization now is reaching more Chair City children than ever before.
Thomasville Masonic Lodge 214 for the second year hosted the Toys for Tots giveaway, bringing together two organizations dedicated to children.
“We think it’s very rewarding because this is what we’re about,” said Bobby Golding, senior steward at Thomasville Masonic Lodge 214. “We’re about kids.”
Thomasville Masonic Lodge 214 on Dec. 21 treated children from across southern Davidson County to Santa Claus, holiday treats and a central location to pick up their Christmas presents compliments of Toy for Tots. The two organizations came together last year as the need for toys in the county continues to rise.
“In years past, we did distribution in Lexington,” said Jerry Foy, commander of Young Marines of Davidson County. “The last couple of years got so big we decided to break it up. We talked to [Golding] and he was more than happy to take up the challenge and open up the lodge for us so we could do distribution for the people of Thomasville, Denton and the southern end of the county.”
This year proved to be one of Toys for Tots largest campaigns in Davidson County as an estimated 284 children received presents during the Masonic Lodge giveaway. Foy said the number of families who submit applications to Toys for Tots has steadily grown in the past five years.
“We had more than 100 families from Thomasville,” said Foy. “When I first started doing this, we collected the toys and turned them over to the Salvation Army in Lexington. That was the end of it. But it just kept growing and growing. In Thomasville, we saw a large increase in toy applications this year, as well as Lexington. It was a whole lot more than last year.”
Young Marines of Davidson County work tirelessly throughout the year getting ready to meet that growing need. A “Christmas in July” event raised $2,400 and another summer campaign collected more than a dozen bicycles. Foy said 2013 featured more community support than ever as new corporate sponsors stepped up to give children in need a Christmas.
Davidson County Community College also for the second year in a row partnered with Young Marines of Davidson County in a venture that collected more than 750 toys. Young Marines of Davidson County currently has 45 members, including 25 from Thomasville. During a recent assembly at Liberty Drive Elementary School, Foy said more than 60 students showed an interest in joining the group. The only qualifications are a student must be enrolled in school and have a clean record.
“By in-large we had a real good campaign,” Foy said. “For some of [the young Marines], it was the first time they had done it. We have a lot of new recruits and they really, really enjoyed it. They felt a great accomplishment being able to do that. It’s a great opportunity for them to get out and see the needs of other people out there.”
Young Marines also reach out to adults as well.
Dozens of young Marines on Dec. 23 visited the Veteran’s Hospital in Salisbury and handed out Christmas cards to veterans and thanked them for their service.
“They thought that was really neat,” said Foy. “That’s what we’re all about.”
Plans already are being discussed on ways to make next year’s toy giveaway at Masonic Lodge 214 bigger and better, Golding said.
After two years, it’s so far, so good.
Staff Writer Eliot Duke can be reached at 888-3578, or firstname.lastname@example.org.