Toys of Tots

Children help load a Chowan County Sheriff’s Office trailer with toys for the Chowan/Perquimans Smart Start Partnership Toys for Tots program. The program is now open for applications.

It is that time of year again.

Applications for Toys for Tots will be taken at Chowan/Perquimans Smart Start Partnership the entire month of October. Chowan and Perquimans county families may apply for their children who are 12-years-old or younger. The Partnership is located at 409 Old Hertford Road in Edenton.

Applications may be found online at cp-smartstart.org, and the Chowan/Perquimans Smart Start and the Chowan CARES Facebook pages. Paper applications will be at the Perquimans County Library and the Shepard-Pruden Memorial Library.

Last year, donations for Toys for Tots in the region suffered due to COVID-19.

Pastor Rodney Coles, Coordinator for the Toys for Tots Northeastern North Carolina region in Greenville, collects the majority of toys that are distributed to Northeast North Carolina.

However, last year no collection boxes were put out and WITN did not hold its annual Toys for Tots toy drive, despite having more applications than ever before.

This year is expected to be similar, as the current numbers for COVID-19 and the Delta variant are up.

Smart Start personnel are hoping that the community will ban together like last year to make local children’s Christmas exceptional.

Among those who helped make last year’s drive a success were: Governor’s Pub held a golf tournament to raise money, as well as collected toys; Edenton Baptist Church and Forestville Ruritan Club raised money and gathered toy donations; Toy donations were made by Time Financing Service, Vaughan’s Jewelry and The Links at Mulberry Hill.

In addition, numerous clubs, businesses and individuals sent cash donations to be used to purchase toys, and McDonald’s of Edenton donated coupons for large orders of fries for each of the Chowan County children.

Toys were also collected through the “Stuff a Patrol Car” toy drives at Hertford and Edenton’s drive-through Christmas Parades. A retired Marine from Weeksville, Chris Harty, and his wife, Monica, brought in tons more toys that had been collected, and Johnnie Hughes showed up with toy donations that his children bought with the $600 they raised by selling hot cocoa for three Saturdays in a row.

The Partnership had so many donations of toys and toys purchased from the cash donations, that the 153 families that had put in applications for their 331 children were able to get three quality toys and three stocking stuffers for each child. After toys were distributed to the Smart Start families, the leftover toys were split up, bagged or boxed, and given to the two other regional Toys for Tots partner agencies working with families.

Those who gave of their time and helped Smart Start staff in the pick-up, sorting and distribution of toys included: The Perquimans and Chowan County Sheriff’s Departments, Waff Contacting for the use of their trailer which made the transport of toys to the delivery sites so convenient for weary elves; Edenton Lions Club members; American Legion Post 40 and Perquimans County Parks and Recreation Center for the use of their large facilities to distribute the toys in order to enforce social-distancing regulations; Edenton Baptist Church members, Debbie Swicegood and Joan Privott, for helping with the sorting of toys in Edenton; Alexandria Diamond of Vidant Health for helping to set-up and break down in Perquimans; and to Smart Start family members, Brianna Hall, Grant Nixon, and Keith Nixon for hauling, sorting, and packing up each day of distribution.

And lastly, the Smart Start staff elves worked tirelessly to pull off a successful Toys for Tots program to provide joy for the children.

What barriers will have to be overcome this year to provide joy to our children through Toys for Tots are not known, but the Smart Start staff hope the community will once again rally together to help make Christmas brighter for many little girls and boys.

Anyone who would like to volunteer for the absolute best job in the universe, have a box for toy collection at his or her business or hold some sort of Toys for Tots fundraiser, contact Sarah Williams at 252-482-3035.

Thadd White is Group Editor of the Bertie Ledger-Advance, Chowan Herald, Perquimans Weekly, The Enterprise & Eastern North Carolina Living. He can be reached via email at twhite@ncweeklies.com.