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