by Madison V. Fisler
Dec. 13, 2013. Walking into the Toys for Tots facility beside T.J. Maxx in the Boone Mall, visitors are immediately greeted by the gigantic Christmas tree decorated for the occasion, as well as a fleet of PowerWheels cars just waiting to be enjoyed by a child. Walk a little further and you see colorfully wrapped packages stacked high, bags of clothes meticulously organized and numerous volunteers working tirelessly to get the gifts ready for Christmas.
With so many gifts already inside, it’s hard to believe that even more is needed to help those in need this holiday season.
Along with many charitable groups around the area, Toys for Tots is working around the clock to ensure that every child has a wonderful Christmas this year, regardless of their means.
“Our first year, we had 54 kids registered to receive gifts, and this year we have more than 900,” said Becky Fowler, who along with her husband Kris, coordinates the Watauga and Avery County Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program.
“It’s a lot of work, but it’s Christmas, and we don’t want any child to ever not have a Christmas.”
The 900 plus children currently registered hail from Watauga and Avery county and are depending on the Toys for Tots program to help them have a merry Christmas this year.
“Just this morning, we sent out a bus with more than 200 bags to Avery County Schools,” Fowler said. “It is very rewarding to see all your hard work going to the kids.”
High Country merchants and stores have been doing their part to help the Toys for Tots initiative, some stores giving them discounts so they can stretch every penny and others making donations to the cause to help out.
“We are taking donations up until Christmas, and we love to have monetary donations,” Fowler said.
“That way we can buy exactly what each child needs, whether it is a new outfit, a coat, a toy or whatever they need. We try to keep things even, giving each child an outfit and things that their parents say they need, like gloves or a hat. We always try to give them a little extra along with age appropriate toys and gifts.”
When children are registered to participate in the program, parents fill out a “wish list” for what the child needs and wants the most. From the wish list, volunteers compile a box of carefully wrapped gifts for each child, taking special care to ensure that they will have something to be excited about on Christmas Day.
Children of all ages through high school are included, to make sure that every child in the High Country has a merry Christmas.
Donations will still be collected up through Christmas and volunteers will be sought through Dec. 15.
For more information, contact the Fowlers at 828-265-0950 or [email protected]
For more information about Toys for Tots, visit www.toysfortots.org.
Check out the photos from the Toys for Tots facility taken today.
Photos by Madison V. Fisler