Toys for Tots
Sister article to Cornbread Festival article...
By Tami Stevenson
Wellborn Community Association organizer Annita Leonard has also taken on Toys for Tots for Suwannee County. Toys for Tots has developed a disaster relief program in addition to their Christmas assistance. They offer emotional relief toys and books for children that have endured disasters.
While Leonard was in Washington D.C. for the Toys for Tots conference,
she contacted Sheriff Sam St. John about setting up the contacts and helping her with distribution in the aftermath of Hurricane Idalia. She said three days later when she returned, he had names and locations, everything set up and ready to go. He not only did it for Suwannee County, but for Lafayette and Taylor Counties as well.
“This wouldn’t have been possible without Sheriff Sam’s help,” said Leonard. “Whatever we needed he made it happen.”
Sheriff Sam and the volunteer deputies loaded up the trailers, providing over 2,000 toys and books for children in Suwannee County. They were also able to provide relief for Lafayette and Taylor Counties. Lafayette gave away 1,700 toys and books for children and Taylor County 2,500.
“We’ve got a bunch of toys already stored up for her at Christmas.” St. John said. “She’s so involved in everything with the Wellborn Community Association and is a lifesaver with all she does for the community.” He said he felt it was the least they could do to help her with Toys for Tots.
The organization also has a backpack program Leonard is wanting to implement next year for foster children.
“When a child has to go into a foster home they have to leave everything. They only walk out with the clothes they have on,” said Leonard. The backpack program provides books, appropriate toys, personal clothing items, etc. in the backpack for children that enter into foster care with toys and items they can call their own.
Toys for Tots recently donated over 2,000 books for the Suwannee County Library. According to Leonard, who knew the information from memory, said Toys for Tots began in 1947. The first year, 76 years ago, Toys for Tots distributed over 5,000 toys; last year they distributed over 8 million toys, nationally.
For Christmas this year, the Toys for Tots drop off location in Wellborn is 1509 4th Ave., Wellborn, FL 32094 (Old Blake Lowe building by the park). Leonard said they are looking for additional drop off locations in Live Oak and Branford. If anyone is interested in putting a box in their business, please contact Annita Leonard at 386-288-3721. Only new (still in the package) unwrapped toys and gifts please.