Local Toys for Tots hindered by August flood

By ZEINAB NAJM
Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — The effect of the August flood is still being felt by a local organization.

The Marine Corps League Dearborn Detachment No. 152, at 4131 Maple, where its toys for the Toys for Tots program are stored, was hit hard when its basement was flooded. The League is almost done rebuilding to get ready for the season.

“The whole basement was destroyed due to the flood,” said Phillip Smith Area, coordinator for Toys for Tots. “There was four feet of water in the basement that the sump pump couldn’t handle, therefore flooded the basement. We had a large amount of toys in there waiting for the season to kick off.”

The Marine Toys for Tots Foundation began in 1991 and includes veterans and volunteers who assist at various locations. Smith is a retired Marine and has been the area coordinator since 1996.

“There are different areas in southeastern Michigan and across the state that volunteers support because there aren’t enough Marines to go around to do everything,” Smith said.

Toys donated will be distributed to families in Dearborn, Dearborn Heights, Garden City and Redford Township.

“We’re rebuilding now and almost complete, that’s what slowed the process down this year,” Smith said. “We’re allowed to have a certain amount of toys before, from the prior season, and that would kick off the new season without delay.”

The 1st Battalion 24 Marines, which is the main coordinator, stepped in to help and support the local Toys for Tots program, Smith said.

Families or individuals may call in to Toys for Tots and to request toys or provide the names of families who are in need of toys for Christmas.

Toys are donated by individuals or companies, such as Ford Motor Co. and other area businesses.

Once toys are received and sorted by age group, family or sex, the family’s information is pre-verified to make sure they meet the requirements of the program. Recipients then go to the Marine Corps League Dearborn Detachment to pick up toys.

The Toys for Tots program was started in 1947 in California. It has distributed about 16.8 millions toys to more than 7 million children since 2012.

For information on how to donate toys, contact Smith at 313-614-9245 or psmithtoysfortots@gmail.com.

(Zeinab Najm can be reached at znajm@bewickpublications.com.)