Gunnery Sgt. Kenneth Starkey, Toys for Tots coordinator for the region, helped to officially kick off this year's Toys for Tots campaign on Monday.
MCLB-ALBANY — The Toys for Tots campaign for this holiday season is underway, a time during which there is hope that the underprivileged children of the Southwest Georgia area will have presents to open this Christmas.
“It’s awesome (to participate in Toys for Tots) because I get to have my children involved, so they see there are those less fortunate out there,” said Gunnery Sgt. Kenneth Starkey, Toys for Tots coordinator for the region. “As a Marine, I love to be a part of giving back to the community.
“We are able to give them (the community’s underprivileged children) something for Christmas.”
The campaign was officially kicked off Monday afternoon aboard Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany by the region’s Marine Reserve unit, as well as officials from the Salvation Army — the organization that handles the registration process for families.
The two organizations have pledged to work with area businesses to ensure there are bins scattered throughout the area to accept toy donations before their distribution to the community. Donors are encouraged to give an unwrapped toy $10-$15 in value for both boys and girls up to 12 years of age.
Families who wish to sign their children up to receive toys can do so at the Albany Salvation Army office at 304 W. Second Ave. from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 29-Nov. 2 and Nov. 5-9.
“We will take applications up until 2 p.m., and we won’t leave until everything is finished,” said Faye Turney, director of social services for the Albany Salvation Army.
“With the economy down, there are a lot children without presents (during the holiday season). We are doing a food drive (along with Toys for Tots), so we are hoping both needs will be met.”
There are several documents that families will need to bring with them when they sign up for Toys for Tots, including:
— A state issued picture ID;
— Birth certificates for all children being applied for;
— A current food stamp summary in the guardian’s name;
— Current rent receipt and utility bill, both in the guardian’s name;
— Verification of all household income;
— Social Security cards for everyone in the household.
Last year alone, the area’s Marine Reserve unit collected more than 14,000 toys for 4,000 children in the area while also raising more than $9,000 in donations for Toys for Tots, officials say.
For more information on the Toys for Tots campaign and how to contribute, go to http://albany-ga.toysfortots.org. or contact the Salvation Army at (229) 435-1428.