Be­hind-the-scenes elves make Toys for Tots pos­si­ble

The Advance of Bucks County - - NEWTOWN AREA - By Cary Beavers

NEW­TOWN - Too many things are taken for granted. That, of course, is not news. What I’ve learned since just be­fore Hal­loween is one of the things that peo­ple don’t give much of a thought to is Toys for Tots.

Don’t get me wrong. I know there are many peo­ple out there who drop new toys, paid for with their own money, into a Toys for Tots col­lec­tion box, which are dot­ted all over Lower Bucks County and, for that mat­ter, the coun­try. In th­ese eco­nomic times, any­one who spends their own money on a present for some­one they’ve never met or seen is im­pres­sive.

What I’m get­ting at is that once that toy is left in the box, very few – if any – peo­ple give a sec­ond thought about where it’s go­ing to end up or how it’s go­ing to get there.

In Oc­to­ber, I spent some time talk­ing with hevin Miller, Bucks County Toys for Tots co­or­di­na­tor. At the time, there was a very real worry that Lower Bucks County would not have a Toys for Tots pres­ence in Bucks County. He was short on vol­un­teers and had no ware­house space to store the do­nated toys.

I fol­lowed Miller’s story from that point. I wrote about David and deri Platt, who own the New­town Swim Club and vol­un­teered their barn to house all the games, bikes, dolls and other toys that will now ap­pear, wrapped, un­der a Christ­mas tree this year.

I’ve do­nated my fair share of toys to the na­tional cam­paign, but never once con­sid­ered the steps in be­tween my do­na­tion and some young boy’s or girl’s open­ing the gift. The story was new to me – not to Miller or his small army of vol­un­teers. I had never even thought of the need to store ev­ery­thing for up to a month be­fore de­liv­ery. Sure, it makes sense – what’s Mil­ller go­ing to do, keep thou­sands of toys in the trunk of his car?

I de­cided that for me to un­der­stand – to really un­der­stand – what Miller and his vol­un­teers do, I’d have to join them. I knew it would feel good to do­nate some time and I also knew it would pro­vide me a story for the news­pa­per, so in a way my vol­un­teer­ing was a bit self-serv­ing. Not so for the 20 or so peo­ple help­ing out at the swim club Dec. 15.

I ar­rived at 10 a.m. look­ing for some­thing to do. It didn’t take long for a woman named Mara to hand me a pur­ple sticky note that read sim­ply, “dirls, 6-T: 43, 43, 43.” It wasn’t some sort of code, rather a quick way to in­struct me that I was to sort WKrougK WKH WKousDnGs oI Woys DnG finG onHs ap­pro­pri­ate for 6- and T-year-old girls. I then had to pack boxes with 43 toys each for de­liv­ery to a place un­known to me. Mara knew ex­actly where they were go­ing, though.

What I was do­ing was ba­si­cally the last task be­fore the toys left the swim club. Prior to my ar­rival, Miller and all his helpers had spent weeks col­lect­ing the toys, un­load­ing them into the barn, sep­a­rat­ing them by gen­der and age, tak­ing or­ders for sSHcLfic orgDnLzDWLons DnG fiOOLng EoxHs Wo haul away.

Ac­cord­ing to physics.com, which gra­ciously gives Santa 48 hours to com­plete GHOLvHry WKDnNs Wo WKH HDrWK’s WLPH zonHs, Santa would “have to de­liver to around 10,000 homes ev­ery sec­ond in or­der to get the job done within those 48 hours.” Of course that’s phys­i­cally ridicu­lous, but not as ridicu­lous as I once con­sid­ered it af­ter spend­ing just two hours with th­ese Toys for Tots vol­un­teers.

By no PHDns Go , wDnW Wo PLnLPLzH WKosH who do­nated all the toys that have packed the swim club’s barn since Novem­ber. :KDW , wDnW Wo Go Ls rHcognLzH wKDW goHs into a suc­cess­ful Toys for Tots cam­paign. It be­comes a full time job for a bunch of peo­ple who al­ready have one.

Most of the lo­cal do­na­tion boxes are now gone. Time is run­ning short and de­liv­er­ies have to be made. Chances are, most of you won’t think about Toys for Toys again un­til next year, when you gen­er­ously pur­chase a toy, place it into a box and walk away, your char­i­ta­ble job done for the year. But when you do that, think about that as your cKDrLWDEOH MoE Ls finLsKHG, so PDny oWKHrs’ are just be­gin­ning.

It’s not 10,000 homes a sec­ond, but to th­ese vol­un­teers, it’s close.

From left, Toys for Tots vol­un­teers Katie Ire­lan, 12, of Langhorn, Ni­cole Mid­dle­ton, 11, of Yardley and Connor Yage­cic, 11, of Ben­salem move bikes in­side the New­town Swim Club’s barn.

From left, New­town Swim Club owner David Platt and Toys for Tots vol­un­teers Cathy Bondy and Geri Lewis or­ga­nize toys at the swim club’s barn.

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