TOYS FOR TOTS: Marines help 'stuff the cruiser'

COLUMBIA CITY — Marines are depicted as tough, battle-ready men, but when working with Toys for Tots, the rough- and-tough Marines take time to reach out to children in need. Toys for Tots is a nation-wide organization with a mission to see that children receive toys at Christmas time.During the Community Christmas Celebration, held Friday and Saturday night, Marines were on hand to encourage donations to “stuff the cruiser” parked in front of the Whitley County Courthouse. Roxy Hagans, of Columbia City, is one of the volunteers overseeing the Whitley County toy drive. With her charge, the area Leatherneck Club, comprised of Marines, join together to see that more than 200 families receive toys.“Those 200 families equal about 500 kids,” said Hagans. “We think this is a small community and that there is no one in need, but the amount of families we help shows just how great the need truly is.”By Hagans’ estimation, the county has been a part of the annual toy drive for more than 15 years. New, unwrapped toys will be collected until Dec. 17 in drop boxes throughout the county. Boxes are located in various retail operations as well as local businesses. Toys are welcome for children of any age up to 16-years old.“There is just something about helping others during the holidays,” Hagans said. “It makes you remember the important things in life.”Among the hustle and bustle, Hagans takes time out of her own holiday agenda to see the drive has a leader.“The Leatherneck Club knows I will get the job done. We work well together and they provide the muscle,” Hagans quipped. “I know that when this time of the year comes, I set aside time to work on this project. It is important and I know it makes a difference in the lives of families in our area.”For families wanting to utilize of the program, applications can be completed at the Salvation Army of Whitley County, located inside First Church of God. Applicants must show identification, proof of residence and proof of income.For more information on the local Toys for Tots program, contact Pat Mossburg, Salvation Army’s ministries director, at 248-1711.