TOY­LAND, TOY­LAND Toys for Tots finds home at New­town Swim Club

The Advance of Bucks County - - FRONT PAGE - By Cary Beavers

NEW­TOWN - Short on vol­un­teers and even shorter on lo­cal ware­house space, Bucks County Toys for Tots co­or­di­na­tor Kevin Miller put out a call for help in late Oc­to­ber. Last week, the New­town Swim Club an­swered.

The na­tional foun­da­tion, started in 1947 by Ma­jor Bill Hendricks, USMCR, is well known for de­liv­er­ing toys and hol­i­day cheer to less for­tu­nate chil­dren throughout the United States. To do that, though, the char­ity needs vol­un­teers and places to store the do­nated gifts be­fore de­liv­ery. As the FDOHnGDU flLSSHG WR 1RvHPEHU, MLOOHU wDs still look­ing for that place to call his tem­po­rary home.

He and a few vol­un­teers took to the streets, knock­ing on doors and ask­ing for help. When Geri Platt heard of Toys for Tots’ prob­lem, she of­fered the swim club’s barn.

Usu­ally used for birthday par­ties and sum­mer camp ac­tiv­i­ties, the barn was go­ing to be empty through most of De­cem­ber, ac­cord­ing to Gerri Platt, who along with hus­band David owns the New­town Swim Club. Platt was ap­proached around Nov. 8 by a Toys for Tots vol­un­teer, who asked if the or­ga­ni­za­tion could use the barn. Know­ing no­body else was us­ing it, Platt im­me­di­ately agreed.

“I just wanted to be a part of Toys for Tots,” Platt said. “It’s in­fec­tious.”

So in­fec­tious, in fact, that Platt and her best friends have al­tered a hol­i­day tradition to help make sure the barn is full of toys prior to dis­tri­bu­tion.

“Ev­ery year, my friends and I get to­gether for a cookie swap,” Platt said. “This year, we’re bring­ing toys in­stead of cook­ies. Fewer calo­ries.”

Be­yond Platt and her friends, she said that some of the swim club’s mem­bers have pledged to pitch in. Un­like many lo­cal swim clubs, New­town Swim Club does not shut down af­ter La­bor Day. In ad­di­tion to the birthday par­ties held in the barn, the FOuE RSHUDWHs D sPDOO fiWnHss FHnWHU. PODWW ap­proached sev­eral work­out fa­nat­ics who promised to help Toys for Tots once it gets up and run­ning.

Ide­ally, Miller said, he would have been up and run­ning by late Oc­to­ber.

“Be­tween [Hur­ri­cane Sandy] and the lack of a ware­house, we have got­ten a slow start,” Miller said. “If I had my choice, we would’ve had the ware­house locked in by the last week in Oc­to­ber, so that we could get un­packed and set­tled, and it would have freed up re­sources like col­lec­tion boxes.”

Miller said he was go­ing to start mov­ing toys in on Sun­day. Bet­ter late than never, Miller is just happy he has a place to store the toys, though he said he could still use more vol­un­teers. Just be­cause he’s found a three-week home for the toys, games

and stuffed an­i­mals doesn’t mHDn KLV work LV finLVKHG. Ac­tu­ally , it means just the op­po­site: he’s just get­ting started. From the swim club he was off to var­i­ous des­ti­na­tions to continue his con­sid­er­able or­ga­ni­za­tional work. His work­load would be unimag­in­able with­out the help he gets from var­i­ous vol­un­teers and other sources.

“It’s not just these vol­un­teers,” said Geri Lewis, her­self a vol­un­teer. “It’s peo­ple you Gon’W WKLnk DEouW. 3Ho­ple who give us stuff like WDSH. ComSDnLHV lLkH $FmH who save their boxes for us. We have so much help.”

Pho­tos by Cary Beavers

Karen Bondi of New­town Bor­ough hands a box of toys to Cathy Bondi of New­town Bor­ough at the New­town Swim Club Sun­day morn­ing.

A box stuffed with stuffed an­i­mals awaits dis­tri­bu­tion while at its tem­po­rary home at New­town Swim Club.

The barn at New­town Swim Club, which will serve as Toys for Tots tem­po­rary stor­age fa­cil­ity.

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