Charities Spread Christmas Cheer

Judy Kramer
County Reporter
Toys can spark a child’s imagination, help him or her to develop motor skills, and provide fun and socialization. Getting a new toy for Christmas makes the season a little more magical and that is why so many individuals and organizations in Benton County are working to provide toys this year for all children who are in need. 
One of those organizations is the local Marine Corps 1254 League that has a partnership with Toys for Tots. Known as the Leathernecks, the group provides money and many services to the local area, but is particularly into buying toys for kids who otherwise might not get any under their Christmas tree. 
“Our Detachment is in its third year of partnering with the Christmas for Kids program in Benton County,” said David Woodfine, who works tirelessly to raise funds and spearhead delivering toys to a point of distribution in Warsaw. “We  have collected a total of $3,000 from Benton County this year that included donations from Maples Ford and Hawthorn Bank.  The Marine Old Drum Detachment in Warrensburg is also involved in helping get toys for kids in Benton and four other counties. Bill and Mona Carey, plus Steve and Teresa Frasier of the Old Drum Detachment in Warrensburg have led the effort for that collection. Everyone involved in getting these toys is a volunteer.”
Woodfine said that Dawn Jelinek and Chanda Chiles with the Christmas for Kids program know the names of needy kids and the Marines asked them for a list of 200 kids in Benton County so they could buy them the kind of toys they wanted. Out of a total of 550 kids that Christmas for Kids is providing for, 425 already had sponsors, so the Marines took responsibility for the last 125. They didn’t have names, but had the sex and age of each child plus the name of the toy wanted.
“When Toys for Tots toys are collected, they do not stay in Benton County,” said Woodfine. “They are taken to Johnson County where they are inventoried. Then, the particular toys that have been requested by Benton County parents are delivered to St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Warsaw for distribution by volunteers of Christmas for Kids. Tom Maples used his 36 foot trailer to pick up the toys from Johnson County and deposited them at St. Ann’s on December 7. He has been providing this service for three years now.”
Woodfine said that toys requested for every kid on their list would be bought, even if the funds raised in Benton County were not enough to cover the cost. He also said that they buy most of their toys at Walmart stores and that the businesses have contributed to the success of the program. 
The Marine Corps 1254 League also donated $500 to the Christmas Shopping with Kids program hosted by the Warsaw Police Department, and will be ringing bells at Walmart on December 15 for the Salvation Army.