ARLINGTON — Hubb's Pizza was bustling with at least 40 birthday party guests on the already busy afternoon of Dec. 7, but the occasion wasn't just a chance for siblings Landon and Payton Countryman to have fun and receive gifts, since the roughly 25 presents that they got actually went to those who needed them more.
Richard Crossley, an area director for the U.S. Marine Corps Toys For Tots Foundation, stopped by to pick up the presents, since Landon, 8, and Payton, 5, had asked their guests to bring unwrapped gifts that could be donated to the charity organization.
"On our invitations, we informed all of our guests that the gifts would be going to Toys For Tots, and to please not wrap them, so everyone knew ahead of time what the plan was," said Emily Countryman, mom to Landon and Payton, whose older sister had staged a similar donation drive for her 7th birthday party. "We got lots of cards, books and games, along with some Play-Doh and a large stuffed Mickey Mouse doll. The kids were excited to have collected a whole boxful for Toys For Tots."
Countryman hopes that all of her children will learn how important it is to give to those who are less fortunate, especially during the holidays.
"We want to instill in them the values of charity and generosity toward others, and to see how blessed they are, to have so many friends and family members who are so willing to give," Countryman said. "I would love for them to do this every year, especially since their birthdays are all so close to Christmas, and they just get overloaded with stuff."
The birthday of Emily Countryman's youngest daughter also falls fairly close to those of Landon and Payton, so Emily would like to see all three children take part in this type of charitable birthday party, but because her youngest just turned 1 year old, she was exempted from giving her own birthday gifts to others this year.
"We are very proud of Landon and Payton for being so open and generous in donating the gifts from their birthday party," Emily Countryman said. "They are both very caring children, and didn't hesitate at all when the idea was brought up to them. We hope that it will inspire other kids and families to do the same thing, or even to volunteer for Toys For Tots."