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‘Toys for Tots’ underway in Arlington
ARLINGTON — Visitors to the Arlington and Marysville Haggen Food & Pharmacy stores on Nov. 20 might have noticed that something was missing from the annual U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Campaign.
The campaign’s collection boxes were there, volunteers were there to receive donations on behalf of the campaign, and members of the community took the time to donate to the campaign as they pushed their shopping carts past, but all the area’s Marines were otherwise engaged that day and unable to attend.
“All our Marines are either deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan or else just training really hard right now,” said Dave Wale, a retired Marine and U.S. Marine Corps representative for Skagit Valley Detachment 1043 of the Marine Corps League. “I’ve been doing this every year for the past eight years in Marysville and Arlington, so I was going to be here regardless.”
While Nathan Goetz, a civilian volunteer, collected toy and cash donations at the Marysville Haggen store, Wale did the same at the Arlington Haggen store. Wale explained that Toys for Tots has been a Marine Corps tradition since the 1950s, and while the obligations of mission readiness precluded area Marines from being able to appear at their own annual event, Wale noted that volunteers stepped up to staff the collection boxes in their stead in recognition of the community’s need.
“It’s been a tough year,” Wale said. “ A lot of people are out of work and there are a lot of needy families as a result. We served about 5,000 families last year, from here to Whatcom County.”
Arlington and Marysville community members still have time to donate to Toys for Tots, since the campaign’s collection boxes will remain at the Marysville Haggen, located at 3711 88th St., and the Arlington Haggen, located at 20115 74th Ave. NE, through Dec. 17 to accept donations of new, unwrapped toys. Cash donations may also be made online at www.toysfortots.org.
Toys for Tots, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit public charity, conducts toy collection and distribution campaigns in all 50 states. Ninety-six percent of all cash donations stay in local communities for the purchase of toys, ensuring there is something available for all age groups of boys and girls. Local coordinators collaborate with agencies, organizations and churches to distribute the toys to children of area families in need.
“Toys for Tots makes the holidays brighter for thousands of children each year,” said Becky Skaggs, spokesperson for the Haggen Food & Pharmacy stores. “Its outstanding reputation assures donors that their gifts will be used well.”