Toys for Tots spreads cheer this holiday season

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) -- There is a warehouse tucked away in Chesterfield County that looks more like Santa's workshop. It is where the Marine Corps helps to make the magic happen.

"It's a way for people to grow as one, come together and help those in need," explains SSgt Elgin Frison, a spokesperson for the 2016 Toys for Tots program.

All donations dropped off in bins around the area end up at the warehouse. Volunteers sort the toys and get them ready for local nonprofits to distribute to children who may not otherwise have a Christmas.

"I've been able to give my kid everything she wanted, so I figured I would try to help some other kids out," says Todd Norman, owner of K & B Tattooing on Brook Road.

Norman, who served as a Marine, has been involved with Toys for Tots for six years. His tattoo shop has donated about 8,000 toys since becoming a collection site. It now partners with the Lakeside Moose Lodge 1714 to be one of the largest donors in the region.

"Oh, I love it, making kids happy on Christmas morning," says David Winter with the Moose Lodge. "Just great community services. Makes you feel good about helping other people."

Frison says helping others is at the core of Toys for Tots. Major Bill Hendricks started it in 1947 in Los Angeles. He and his Marine reservists collected and distributed 5,000 toys that first year, and Toys for Tots officially became a foundation in 1948.

Now Toys for Tots has become an annual tradition for families and groups, like the Bellevue Merchants Association. It collected the most donations in one day last year, 3,372 toys.

"We're shooting to break the record this year. We're shooting for 4,000 toys. It's like a challenge," says Bob Kocher, a member of the association who owns Once Upon a Vine on MacArthur Avenue. "We are going to make it happen."

Everyone involved in the campaign encourages shoppers to support Toys for Tots this year. Each toy donated will help give children the priceless gift of happy holiday memories.

"Why would you not want to pick up an extra toy and drop it off in the box for one of the kids who needs these things?" asks Frison.

In 2015, Toys for Tots collected and distributed 75,000 toys in the Richmond area and hopes to surpass that number this holiday season. 8News is proud to partner with the program this year to spread Christmas cheer.

Anyone who wants to donate toys or time to the program can learn more information here.

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