Marine Corps Detachment 1322 hosted the first Toys for Tots Christmas in July event in Veterans Memorial Park on Saturday.
Todd Abbott, commandant of Marine Corps Detachment 1322, said the local group wanted to have a warm weather event that would draw people in the area. Abbott had the duty at the dunking tank. He wore an outfit that looked like it came from Minnie Pearl’s closet…when she lived near Lil’ Abner in Dogpatch.
“We needed something to embellish the dunking tank,” joked Abbott. “This is really my outfit for church functions.”
He said the detachment had been active for three years and although it had been involved in other Toys for Tots events, this is the first year it has been held in Veterans Park.
Last year, the group held a Toys for Tots event in November at East Surry High School. They raised $800 at that event, Abbott said. This will be the third year the group is hosting a Toys for Tots event, but the first-ever Christmas in July event. Toys for Tots is held to benefit needy children. Locally, the toys are distributed by the Salvation Army and in the Pilot Mountain area by the Pilot Mountain Outreach Program.
Detachment spokesperson June Abbott said that the local group’s efforts have grown from 500 toys collected in its first year to 4,000 last year. The Marine Corp League began helping Toys for Tots in 1947. The local detachment has been active for the past three years, Abbott said.
Over the past 10 years, Marines nationally have distributed an average of 15 million toys yearly and brought the joy of Christmas to more than six million needy children each year. A variety of notable Americans have supported the program. For instance, the distinctive toy train logo for the program was designed by Walt Disney.
Cruise-in for Christ hosted a cruise-in in conjunction with Saturday’s event. There was also a poker run and a 50/50 drawing along with the cruise-in with proceeds going to Toys for Tots. Clay Honeycutt, Cruise-in for Christ spokesperson, said that at least 20 cars participated in the poker run and a car from the Richard Petty Museum was also in the competition. Honeycutt said a total of 38 trophies were awarded at the cruise-in.
Others also involved with the cruise-in included the Mayberry Cruisers. The poker run was staged by American Legion Riders Post #1023.
Music was provided by the Beulahland Praise Team, Jimmy & Mony, Junior Hawkins & the Gospelaires and Penny Rinehart. The local National Guard provided a climbing wall for the event. The silent auction that included gift cards from local restaurants and other items.
Food sale proceeds went towards Toys for Tots. Food available included funnel cakes, shaved ice, hamburgers, hot dogs and drinks. The Young Explorers with the Mount Airy Police Department and the Surry County Sheriff’s Office cooked the hamburgers and hot dogs. The Dean Browder Foundation and Billy’s Concessions also were involved the the event.
Abbott said he was appreciative of the efforts of all the groups and individuals who helped him with the event and to the efforts of Honeycutt and Richard Brindle.
“All of these volunteers and the marine corps league organization really pitched in,” concluded Abbott. “We all pulled together to make this a success.”
Reach David Broyles at email@example.com or 719-1952.