Rio Grande County Sheriff collecting Toys for Tots

Photo by Lyndsie Ferrell Rio Grande County Sheriff’s Department Undersheriff Chris Crown, Toys for Tots representative Nadia Flores, and Rio Grande County Sheriff Don McDonald pose with the first box of collections for the 2021 holiday season.

RIO GRANDE COUNTY — For several years in a row now, the Rio Grande County Sheriff’s Department has offered a drop-off location for Toys for Tots and this year is proving to be one of the biggest yet.

According to the department, Toys for Tots has already come and picked up a full box of holiday joy for children this holiday season, and they are well on their way to filling a second box for the organization. 

According to the organization, “Toys for Tots began in 1947 as the brainchild of Marine Corps Reserve Major Bill Hendricks. Actually, it was his wife, Diane, who was the real inspiration. She had a few handcrafted dolls and asked Bill to deliver them to an agency that supports children in need.

"When Bill reported back to his wife that he could not find such an organization, she instructed him to “start one!”. Maj Hendricks and the Marines in his reserve unit in LA collected and distributed 5,000 toys in 1947. The Foundation raises funds, purchases toys, provides promotional and support materials, manages all funds raised and donated, solicits corporate support, educates the public, and handles day-to-day operations. Presently, the Marine Toys for Tots Program distributes an average of 18 million toys to 7 million less fortunate children annually.”

Rio Grande County Sheriff’s Department Public Information Officer Courtney Arthur was grateful for the community support.

“The Rio Grande County Sheriff’s Office are proud supporters of Toys for Tots in the San Luis Valley," Arthur said. "Last year, we were able to fill our box a little under four times, between toys being put in the box or giving a monetary donation. Which was amazing, seeing that kind of support from our community, especially during these difficult times for everyone."

All the toys that are donated stay in the San Luis Valley.

“So, you are really going a long way to help out your community," Arthur said. "It is a really great thing and toys stay here locally. Our goal this year is to go above and beyond what we managed to do last year; every little bit helps. Whether it is dropping a toy in the donation box or giving a monetary donation for us to go get toys to put in the box. The Sheriff’s office wants to thank you in advance for any support you can offer.”

Toys are collected through toy drives and drop-off locations. Items can also be sent to the Toys for Tots Foundation. 

The SLV Toys for Tots campaign is graciously housed out of VFW Post 899 in Alamosa. Requests can be made at Donations can also be made using the website. During 2020, the Toys for Tots campaign in the San Luis Valley served 2,340 children and distributed 4,920 toys, books, and stocking stuffers.

If you would like to help, but are unable to donate, Toys for Tots always needs volunteers. Contact Coordinator Rowena Martinez at 719-580-7791, for more information on volunteering.

For more information or details about how to donate, contact the Rio Grande County Sheriff’s Department at 719-657-4000.