Postal carriers collect Toys for Tots
U.S. Postal Service letter carriers helped collect Christmas gifts for local children in need Saturday during a one-day toy drive.
Residents in Lee, Collier and Charlotte counties were encouraged to place a new, unwrapped toy by their mail receptacle to benefit the Marine Corps League Toys for Tots program. Last year, the program helped about 6,800 families make it a happy holiday for more than 11,000 children.
Judy Bowler, a Toys for Tots coordinator for Lee County, said each child received one large toy, three small toys, a Christmas stocking filled with goodies and a teddy bear as gifts last year. Pre-qualified families also received a turkey, with the fixings, for dinner.
As of Saturday, early estimates on the total donations collected were not good.
“It doesn’t look as good as last year,” she said. “And last year it rained.”
The main post office in Cape Coral picked up more than 2,000 toys, but the the total is “normally double” that, Bowler said. She blamed the still down economy, and said those who might have been able to donate last year are now beginning to feel the pinch.
“Those people are now hurting too,” Bowler said.
She thanked those who donated, especially those who had to dig deep to do so.
“We definitely really appreciate their efforts,” Bowler said.
The toys collected Saturday included the usuals – board games, stuffed animals, trucks and cars, dolls and sports gear – along with a few surprises. An electric Razor scooter and a large remote-controlled airplane were happily unloaded from the carriers’ trucks.
Letter carrier Rick Rivera picked up the airplane. He said most of the toys he collected were hanging on mailboxes, but the airplane was so big, the donor personally handed it over. Rivera commented on what a great gift it was and the man said he just hoped that some child enjoyed it, Rivera said.
“I was surprised I got as many as I did,” he added. “The economy is still really bad.”
Letter carrier Bob Fisk also dropped off toys Saturday collected on his route.
“It’s a good thing,” he said of the U.S. Postal Service’s involvement. “It’s cool to be able to help, to do our part.”
And, Fisk added, it is simple for residents to participate.
“It’s easy,” he said. “All you have to do is drop something at the end of your driveway.”
Toy donations can still be made at any Walgreens store in Fort Myers and Cape Coral. The deadline to donate varies from store to store, but the final pickup is set for Dec. 20.
Residents also can donate at the Breeze Newspapers office, at 2510 Del Prado Blvd. S.
Monetary donations can be made by credit card at fort-myers-fl.toysfortots.org. Checks can be mailed to Toy for Tots, PO Box 150393, Cape Coral, FL 33915.
Families that need help can contact the Salvation Army at 278-1551. According to Bowler, families that do not pre-qualify for Toys for Tots may still receive assistance depending on how many toys remain. She said they try to help all last-minute shows.
“The economy, the way it is,” Bowler said. “We expect to have a lot of last-minute people come to us.”