Toys for Tots

The Rice County Toys for Tots program is now accepting applications for those who would like to receive toys this holiday season, as well as those who want to volunteer, become a Toy Drop Site or make monetary donations. (Daily News file photo)

Rice County Toys for Tots has begun collecting toys to distribute to underprivileged but good little boys and girls across Rice County this holiday season.

The Marine Corps Toys for Tots program has provided new toys to children at Christmas time since 1947. In 1991, the Secretary of Defense authorized the creation of the Toys for Tots Foundation to coordinate and support the program.

In Rice County, the Toys for Tots program is a joint effort of the Cannon Valley Detachment, Marine Corps League and Rice County Social Services. Last year, the program distributed 1,690 toys to 560 children across Rice County.

Retired Gunnery Sergeant Douglas Truman, a Vietnam War veteran, has served as program coordinator for the last 25 years. This year could be Truman’s last. He has the support of an assistant coordinator, Scott Eitel, and is considering turning the program over to him next year.

In Rice County, most Toys for Tots recipients receive assistance from Rice County Social Services, have a child enrolled in the Three Rivers Head Start Program or are on the WIC Program. Truman said that the organization also considers those children from families not receiving social assistance on a case by case basis.

“We know there’s some people out there who should be on assistance but aren’t, even though they’re having rough times,” he said. “We want to get the word out there and help them if we can.”

Families in need have all of October and November to apply online at bit.ly/2IAJbcj for a toy box from Rice County Toys for Tots. Toy distribution takes place Dec. 17 and 18 at the Faribault American Legion, 112 NE Fifth Street.

Toys for Tots is accepting monetary donations from generous donors as well as gifts of new, unwrapped toys. All donations of new, unwrapped toys must be received by the Marine Corps by Dec. 16 to ensure that children receive them in time.

Toys for Tots is also looking for area organizations and businesses who want to become toy drop sites. Interested parties can apply to become a toy drop site here.

Two fundraisers traditionally held in support of the program — “Breakfast with Santa” at the Faribault American Legion and a bowling tournament at J&J’s Bowling Alley in Faribault. This year, a third fundraiser was held — a golf tournament at Faribault Golf Club Aug. 9.

For more information on how to support the Rice County Toys for Tots program, contact Truman at 507-339-5437 or douglastruman@q.com.

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