The holiday season has arrived in full-swing, and Old Rochester Regional is getting into the giving spirit. Toys for Tots is holding a collection at ORR High School for their second year, and they are asking for new, unwrapped toys for kids aged 0 to 12 years.
Heidi Graser, a science teacher at ORR, is the school’s liaison to the Toys for Tots program. “My father runs the South Shore division of it,” she said, adding, “It’s been in my family for seven years … Last year they moved their warehouse to Wareham and it just made sense, when looking at fundraisers, to think ‘Why haven’t we done this at the school, if I’m a direct contact and it’s so easy to get kids involved?’”
It’s true that the students of ORR have jumped at this opportunity. “We’re decorating the lobby; we’ve made signs,” said Graser, “Students are getting involved here.”
Students also have the opportunity to volunteer at the warehouse, located in the storefront next to Bath and Body Works at Wareham Crossing. On Black Friday, a handful of students helped organize early donations. Since then, other groups of students have gone on the weekends to help out. “If students are willing to volunteer, I will gladly open up the place,” said Graser.
Student volunteers mostly help with organization. “We get shipments of toys, and then we have to divide them up by gender and age so it’s easier for us to grab the toys when we need them,” Graser explained, “Sometimes big organizations come to us … they might say ‘we need toys for ten 5-year-old girls,’ and they’ll give us a list.”
Graser said that it’s nice to have student volunteers pick out the toys for donation because “teenagers know what kids want better than we do.”
The last batch of toys will most likely be sent out on December 21, but Toys for Tots always accepts donations. Having toys at the end of the season “gives us a base point to start with for the organizations that want the toys early,” says Graser. The collection box in ORR’s lobby will be accessible until December 18, while additional donations can be given at the storefront warehouse in Wareham Crossing.
Each year, the number of donations for the older kids is much lower than what is needed. Toys for Tots remembers that every child deserves a gift on Christmas day, but they can only give what they receive. Graser said some ideas for donations for the older kids include makeup kits, art supplies, board games, sport supplies, books, or movies.
“We get a lot of Candyland,” said Graser, noting that this is one of the challenges Toys for Tots faces. While it’s great to receive these donations, they don’t want to be unknowingly sending Candyland to the same child each year.
Still, with the help of local generosity, Toys for Tots manages to be an amazingly successful program. In this South Shore region, they collect 5,000 – 6,000 toys. These mostly go to families in Plymouth County, including children in the Tri-Town. The South Shore is a part of the Cape Cod division, which in total collects around 60,000 toys each year. This goes towards helping around 20,000 children have a happy holiday season.
For more information, contact the South Shore coordinator, Bob Graser. He may be reached at 774-454-4309 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Renae Reints