By ROXANN MILLER
10:11 PM EST, November 28, 2012
It wasn’t so long ago that Toys for Tots volunteer Trenton Funk’s Christmas would have been pretty bleak without the help of Toys for Tots.
As he cleared a table at Wednesday’s spaghetti dinner fundraiser, he reflected on giving back to the organization that came through for his family one Christmas not so long ago.
The father of three boys was laid off at his job three years ago, and his wife was attending school full-time to earn a nursing degree.
“When the recession hit, things were tight. I got help from them that year,” he recalled as he took a break from clearing tables.
At the time, his sons were 7, 6 and 2.
Kids appreciate anything, he said.
“But, as a parent you want to provide the best Christmas you can for your kids,” Funk said.
Toys for Tots helped him do just that.
Now, he’s working, his wife is set to graduate in May with an RN degree, and he wants to give back to the organization that helped save Christmas for his family three years ago.
“I love this organization,” he said. “If I was at a place to financially give back, I would. But, I can give back with my muscle.”
He also helps sort and pack toys for the campaign.
Like Funk, no parent wants to disappoint their child on Christmas no matter what the state of the economy.
So, the Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Campaign, conducted by the Landis-McCleaf Detachment, Chambersburg, has been coming to the rescue of overwrought mothers and fathers by keeping the holiday magic alive.
Serving Franklin and Fulton counties as well as Shippensburg, Pa., in Cumberland County since 2005, the local Toys for Tots program distributes toys to needy children.
“Every child deserves a toy at Christmas. I just think it’s one of those things that makes everybody feel good. When times are tough we try to find the blessings where we can — putting a smile on a kid’s face on Christmas morning helps everybody feel good,” said Kathy Hoffman, Landis-McCleaf assistant coordinator for Toys for Tots.
Each year the number of requests grows, Hoffman said.
This year, there were 2,065 requests compared to 2,054 last year, she said
On Wednesday, the Marine Corps League at 450 Grant St. in Chambersburg, hosted its annual spaghetti dinner to raise funds for the holiday event.
The $6 per person cost of the dinner, which included all-you-can-eat spaghetti, bread and coleslaw, helps supplement the cost of toys, she said
She hoped to raise between $1,500 and $2,000 from the dinner.
“I’m confident that we will raise what we need, because we’ve had great success. People in this community — even if they’re hurting find a way to give. Even when I was hurting I found a way to give,” Hoffman said.
Children 16 and younger are eligible for toys. The deadline has passed, however, for families to register their children to receive toys, according to the agency’s website.
There are 200 locations in three counties where new, unwrapped toys may be donated, Hoffman said.
She said volunteers will pickup the toys from the collection sites the weekend of Dec. 8 and 9.
There’s still plenty of time to donate, she said.
However, donations will be accepted at the Toys for Tots Toy Center beginning Monday, Dec. 10, at the former Gold’s Gym building off U.S. 11 north at the North Point Business Center, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 5-9 p.m.
The toys are distributed Sunday, Dec. 16.
Jennifer Burgum, of Chambersburg, enjoyed a meal out with her 4-year-old twins Ava and Will.
“This is a good cause because there are a lot of children in the community that are going to go with little or no Christmas presents, and it’s great to be able to help them out,” Burgum said.
Her children donated toys to the cause.
“They are very aware that some children don’t have toys,” she said.
Tammy Russell, of Shippensburg, has attended the dinner for about five years.
She came with her mother and friend and co-worker.
Not only is the food delicious, but Toys for Tots is a wonderful organization, she said.
“I came to support Toys for Tots and to help those who don’t have funds to buy their children gifts so they have something to open at Christmas. Little kids don’t understand (the economic issues),” Russell said.
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