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Operation: Toy Box turns 26

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Again this year, and celebrating its 26th year, Operation: Toy Box is underway to provide new toys to children in Montgomery County this Christmas.

Members of Delta Theta Tau sorority and soldiers from the Crawfordsville unit of the Indiana Army National Guard have been busy getting things ready for this year’s toy drive, and a large number of collection sites are now open to accept toys for the 26th year of this popular local program.

Members of the sorority have made final contacts with businesses who will be serving as this year’s collection sites. You can drop off new, unwrapped toys at the following locations: Christi Hubler Chevrolet, Crawfordsville Electric Light & Power, Chase (downtown), Crawfordsville Community Center, Creek Jewelers, Discovery Preschool, Indiana National Guard Armory, Journal Review, JTR Repair, Kroger (both stores), First Merchants Bank, Little Mexico, Savvy Chic, Stevenson’s Ace Hardware, Studio 32 Salon & Spa, The Paper of Montgomery County, Tri-County Bank (both locations) and Walgreens.

The local REINdear program, headquartered at the Youth Service Bureau, furnishes the names of eligible families. Each family will receive a notification letter from Operation: Toy Box with details concerning the date and times for toy distribution. They must bring that letter to the distribution site. Sorority members and Guardsmen will sort and distribute the collected toys in mid-December. Operation: Toy Box is a local program serving local children. Also providing support are McDonald’s South and Home Depot.

“The goal of Operation: Toy Box is to insure that as many children as possible wake up to at least one new toy under the tree on Christmas morning,” said sorority chairperson Gloria Long. “My husband, Dave, headed up this program for the Guards for the first 12 years and I’ve seen the impact it has had on hundreds of local families. The program took on an extra special meaning a couple of years ago when a large number of Guardsmen from the local unit were deployed overseas. Today many other Montgomery County families will have their father, mother, brother or sister serving away from home this Christmas season. We hope to be able to assist a large number again this year.”

She also added that gifts for both boys and girls ages 12 to 15 were always in short supply.

When asked about the possibility of the project expanding outside of Montgomery County, S. David Long, a retired Guardsman, who has been involved with the program since it beginning, commented that, “I think much of the success of this project is because it is a local effort, staffed by local volunteers, to help their fellow friends and neighbors. We don’t know what other agencies do outside of Montgomery County and it would be a shame for us to go elsewhere and possibly duplicate an existing effort and take away from what we do best in our county. We have been very successful being a local program, providing new toys for children and that’s where we want to maintain our focus.”

Factories, businesses and civic organization are encouraged to make group collections. Several pre-school and grade school classes have made field trips to various collection points so the children could put their toys in the collection box and see the toys that others have donated. Several parents did the same with their children. They all shared the feeling that it was important for children to learn the importance of sharing and helping others in need.

This year’s deadline for donations is Dec. 13. Guardsmen will be busy that day picking up the new toys at all of the donations sites. Over the past 26 years, an estimated 6,300 children have received new toys under their tree thanks to Operation: Toy Box.

Gloria Long can be reached at 765-362-4395 to answer any questions about the program and how to donate money in lieu of toys.

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