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Toys for Tots collection still on at Cape locations

By Staff | Dec 17, 2008

Seven Cape Coral businesses and one school in the city have joined forces to collect toys for the Toys for Tots program.
Charlie Ringland of Community Self Storage wanted to reach out to other businesses in order to make the drive a success, even going as far as to fabricate and deliver the collection boxes himself.
Ringland saw the opportunity to help out area children and jumped at the chance.
“The economic times are extremely tough right now,” he said. “I thought it would be good to get some other companies involved. If we had more drop sites it would be easier to donate.”
Ringland said he has received a “great response” from the community and the businesses who got on board with his idea.
Toys for Tots began in 1947 when Maj. Bill Hendricks, USMCR, came up with the plan to collect toys for needy children in the greater Los Angeles area. The program went national the following year.
In Lee County, the toys are collected by Willis McLaw of Fort Myers, a Toys for Tots coordinator which eventually funnels the toys back to distribution centers.
So far, McLaw estimates that Toys for Tots has collected more than 15,000 toys since the campaign’s start.
There are three distribution centers in Lee County: the Salvation Army, and fire stations in North Fort Myers and San Carlos Park.
McLaw said the centers have been distributing toys since Saturday, utilizing a sign-up method for parents who are in need of toys.
Though the sign-up period for the toys has passed, Toys for Tots will collect toys for next year’s campaign through Dec. 28.
McLaw added that he is in desperate need for help in the Cape, needing people to pick up toys as well as a distribution center. He hopes a Cape fire station will step up for next year.
“We need help next year putting out boxes and picking up toys. If we don’t get the help, we’re not going to do it next year,” McLaw said. “We have the funding, just not the help.”
McLaw said he regrets not having anywhere to distribute toys in the Cape, but that has not stopped Ringland from looking ahead to next year, too.
He plans on collecting again next year, but taking a more leveled approach. This year’s efforts were categorized as merely “spur of the moment” by Ringland.
“This was just spur of the moment, a last-minute thing we put together,” he said. “But, this is the first of many years to come.”
For more information on volunteering to pick up toys, or as a distribution center for next year’s toy drive, contact Willis McLaw at 275-4576.
To learn more about Charlie Ringland’s efforts, contact him at 541-0051. Pick locations are:
— Aubuchon Team of Companies, 4707 S.E. Ninth Place
— Caloosa Middle School, 610 Del Prado Blvd. S.
— Community Bank of Cape Coral, 1645 S.E. 47th Terrace
— Community Self Storage, 3300 Chiquita Blvd. S.
— Downtowner Car Wash, 1009 Del Prado Blvd. S.
— Florida Gulf Bank, 1631 Del Prado Blvd.
— Geo’s Italian Restaurant, 1110 Ceitus Terrace
— Stevie Tomato’s Sports Page, 3422 Del Prado Blvd. S.