All kids deserve Christmas toys

Christmas means many things to many people – from devout religious services to shopping mania, but to most children it means toys. It was always religious for our family as I was growing up but more than anything I looked forward to opening presents and finding toys on Christmas morning.

Children need shelter, food and clothing, and they also need toys. However, due to circumstances beyond their control, many children may not be getting any toys this year and may not have received any toys last year, either. For them Santa Claus is just a well-intentioned guy who can’t seem to find their homes.

The need is great. My involvement with The Marine Corps Toys for Tots (T4T) some years ago not only opened my eyes to the great need in my community but also the great generosity of the community when the need is brought to its attention. As volunteer chairman of the annual campaign in my county, my time was spent gathering toys which I then distributed through several established charitable agencies.

One year, several months after Christmas, a lady in charge of helping newly-arrived legal immigrants called me. Our program had been able to help her with toys in the waning days of the previous holiday season – which she called a “miracle” since until then she had run out of all other options. Now, she wanted me to go with her as she visited some of her new people to distribute some of the leftover toys.

I tried to beg off, saying that I appreciated the need and didn’t have to see it that “up close and personal” but she persisted and one night I went with her to three homes in a very poor, project neighborhood. Those we saw did not speak English but my friend had ways to communicate.

The small children were brought in to see us but when I handed them some of the toys we brought they just stared at us – at least until I realized that they probably had never seen a real toy before and didn’t know what they were. I then got down on the floor and began to play with one toy – a play school bus with its little people – and they soon joined in as we tried out all the toys. Seeing and feeling the joy of the children there was my friend’s way of thanking T4T through me for its help.

The miracle of such help comes in the efforts of those who take the time during very busy days to think of those who need our help (and toys) – the children. Please keep these kids in mind this year and find a way to help. It doesn’t have to be through T4T, any giving organization will do. Work a miracle – make a kid happy on Christmas morning. Happy holidays.

Mel Maurer lives in Westlake.

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Volume 2, Issue 24, Posted 10:31 AM, 11.27.2010