Season offers chances to spread cheer
The holiday season is here, and many of us are looking forward to a Christmas spent with family and friends. Unfortunately, there are many in our community who will not be so blessed as to be surrounded by loved ones, presents and the simple pleasures that make Christmas so special. This year, we should focus on being charitable and helping those who are less fortunate and in need. Over the next two weeks, I will use this column to point out different ways in which you can make this Christmas and holiday season a little brighter for those who need it the most.
The “Toys for Tots” Program has been a mission of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve since it first began in 1947. The program collects new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year, and distributes those toys as Christmas gifts to disadvantaged children in the community. In its first year, founder Maj. Bill Hendricks, USMCR and a group of Marine Reservists in Los Angeles collected and distributed 5,000 toys to children. Over the past 64 years, the Toys for Tots Program has distributed more than 400 million toys to more than 188 million needy children. Many of those toys have been distributed right here in the Coastal Bend.
In the Coastal Bend, boat parades are used as part of the Toys for Tots campaign. The lighted boats in the parades are accompanied by “pick-up” boats with Marines on board that stop along the route at boat docks and collect toys. Our area ranks as one of the top areas in the country in the amount of toys collected every year. It is important to note that there are more than 50 drop-off locations for unwrapped toys located throughout the Coastal Bend. For more information on how and where to make a donation, please visit www.toysfortots.org.
Many of our state’s most vulnerable citizens are under the care of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS). The agency has a broad charge which in part includes protecting children as well as adults who are elderly or have disabilities and who are living at home or in state facilities. There are 249 offices across the state, through which 6,800 DFPS employees assist Texas citizens in need.
It is important to remember that many of the citizens being served by DFPS are children in foster care. DFPS statistics from the 2009 fiscal year show that 660 children in the state’s foster care system live in Aransas, Calhoun, Nueces and San Patricio counties. These are children in need of a loving home, but many are also in need of something much simpler this Christmas – the joy that comes with the receipt of a thoughtful gift. DFPS has partners across the state called Rainbow Rooms, that accept donations on behalf of the children and families with whom they service. These donations can be items such as toys and even basic essentials. It is important to remember that toy donations should be new and unwrapped. If you are unable to find a Rainbow Room near you, these items can also be taken to the DFPS local offices. There are seven offices located in the counties that make up House District 32. You can find out more about how you can help as well as locate the nearest DFPS office by visiting the agency’s Web site at www.dfps.state.tx.us.
If you have questions regarding the giving opportunities mentioned in this article, please do not hesitate to call my capitol or district office.
Todd Hunter, R-Corpus Christi, is the District 32 State Representative. Contact him at E2-808, P.O. Box 2910, Austin TX 78768; (512) 463-0672 or firstname.lastname@example.org.