How the Centre County Toys for Tots Program works
The Nittany Leathernecks serve as the program facilitator. Members rarely interface with actual benefactors of the program. Only on rare occasion does that happen. Working closely with the Centre County Adult Services Office, Pennsylvania State Police Foster Child Program, and the State College Elks Club, the detachment is the conduit for collecting, wrapping, sorting, and logistically delivering toys to the service agencies (noted above) that provide the actual distribution. Needs established by the Centre County Adult Services Office are provided to the detachment. The detachment then provides four items for each child/young adult. These items include toys, books, games, sporting equipment, and other appropriate articles for young adults such as jewelry, watches, radios, backpacks, etc. Generally speaking, two of the four items received will be quality items the child/young adult can particularly enjoy. Each year the annual campaign ensures that over 3000 less-than-fortunate Centre County children enjoy the holiday spirit. The Centre County Toys for Tots campaign accommodates religious protocols (in concert with economic eligibility) for Christmas, Hanukkah, Ramadan, and Kwanza during the December-January holiday season.
The actual execution of the process takes place in a remarkable two-week time window. Additionally, other social service agencies are provided any leftover toys that remain. To execute the logistics, and also provide a safety net to catch those needy children who may fall through the crack at the last minute, the Nittany Leathernecks have enlisted the help of local fire and police units. Fire companies throughout the county provide transportation from the wrapping/distribution site to the area food banks. The distribution we are talking about includes an average of approximately 14,000 toys each year. Local police units each receive a cache of toys so that any short-notice calls for help can be handled immediately especially, for example, on the eve of Hanukkah or Christmas. The use of police personnel for last minute situations is unique. The Nittany Leathernecks feel it is important for young kids (and parents) in economically disadvantaged homes to develop positive interactions with local law enforcement personnel. Letting police units close the final loop is a unique opportunity to create a positive encounter. It is a win-win situation for all concerned.
Each year during the campaign toy donation collection sites are set up throughout the county at various collection points. At these sites, large red collection barrels are made available from Thanksgiving Day until approximately one week before December 25th. Established sites include those noted
. Toy donations should be new, unwrapped toys for infant through young adult (13 and above). Do not waste time wrapping gifts since they will be unwrapped and inspected before being rewrapped and distributed to the supporting food banks or designated distribution organization.
Cash donations are always welcome. These donations provide flexibility in terms of filling age/gender shortfall areas that the actual toy donation collection effort fails to cover each year. Traditionally, shortfall areas include infant as well as young adult (13 and above). Checks or money orders are preferred by those desiring to make contributions. Please make checks or money orders out to "Marine Corps Toys for Tots Foundation". ALL cash donations received by the Nittany Leathernecks are sent to an account held by the national headquarters located at Quantico, Virginia. All (100%) money received by the Nittany Leathernecks goes to the Centre County effort. Checks should/will be annotated with "Nittany Leathernecks Detachment" in the memo section before forwarding to the national foundation in order to ensure they are held for the exclusive benefit of Centre County. The foundation provides accountability and protection to ensure no misuse of the funds occur. Absolutely NO member of the Nittany Leathernecks Detachment receives any personal compensation for his/her effort(s) on behalf of the campaign. All contributions made to the Marine Corps Toys for Tots Foundation are tax deductible under the IRS-approved code 501(c)3 "Tax Exempt Organization." The federal identification number (FIN) for the Marine Corps Toys for Tots Foundation is 22-3050009.
Penn State Basketball Games:
Each year, the Penn State Athletic Department has identified specific basketball games as Toys for Tots support events. Basketball fans will be admitted at no cost, other than the contribution of a new and unused toy at the entrance gate. The Nittany Leathernecks wish to thank the Penn State Athletic Department for this special support we receive each year.
For electronic event updates and news, we will add you to our e-mail distribution list. Contact Gene Weller: leatherneck302.gmail.com
For those without access to e-mail, please contact Gene Weller by regular mail:
Centre County Toys for Tots
PO Box 956
Lemont, PA 16851-0956
Be sure to indicate the correct U.S. Postal Service mailing address you desire to have information delivered to. You will receive invitations to the annual kick-off breakfast, as well as announcements regarding wrapping schedules and other news.