Toys for Tots

The Grinch hasn’t stolen Christmas from needy youngsters who benefit from the Toys for Tots program in DeSoto County and the Mid-South, but it’s still on his mind to do.

Sept. 30 was set as a deadline for finding warehouse space that was lost earlier this year to store the many toy donations that generously come from residents for the Marine Corps Reserve program.

The space was lost when the company that donated it to Toys for Tots sold the warehouse located in the Hickory Hill area of Memphis, said Carrol Howard, a retired Marine Master Sergeant who oversees the program, adding the same firm had no other space to offer due to long-term leases on their buildings.

Since learning the warehouses were no longer available, Howard has spent the better part of the last two months trying to find replacement space, but she said in an email Tuesday evening nothing has been found.

Sept. 30 had been set as a deadline date for finding space, but Howard said she has been given a bit of a reprieve from the national foundation.

“I contacted the Toys for Tots Foundation and told them I could not get a warehouse this year and couldn't do my campaign,” Howard said. “However, they apparently have a lot of faith in me and said to move forward with accepting applications for toys because they feel that I will get a warehouse.”

Howard said she is now looking at temporary solutions for this year.

“I am now looking at the possibility of getting some 53-foot trailers donated from FedEx Freight and work out of the back of them,” Howard said. “I would just have to find some business that would be willing to allow me to park them on their parking lot so we can work out of the trailers.”

Howard and her husband are also inquiring about the purchase of land in the area they could build a permanent warehouse on for the future.

Toys for Tots has been a continuing effort of the Marine Corps Reserves since shortly after World War II ended that annually collects and distributes toys for less fortunate kids at Christmas time.

Howard oversees the program for a good share of the Mid-South, including DeSoto County, she said.

“Last year we served more than 14,000 kids,” Howard said in August. “We serve 22 counties encompassing Tennessee and Mississippi, along with Crittenden County, Ark.”

Howard may be reached at midsouthtoysfortots@yahoo.com or by phone at 901-413-1444.

Bob Bakken is Staff Writer and may be reached at 662-429-6397 ext. 240.

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