“We’ve only collected about 5,000 of the 50,000 toys we need this Christmas season to serve 10,000 kids,” said Matt Careins, the local community organizer for Carroll, Heard, Haralson and Cleburne, Ala., counties. “We’re hoping it will pick up this weekend and the following week. Right now, we’re hurting in getting where we need to be. We don’t want to turn anybody away, but we need more toys.”
He said his group also needs volunteers to help with the collection and distribution of the toys.
One boost could come today and Saturday as Southwire Company hosts its annual toy drive from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day in the company’s Employee Resource Center parking lot, across U.S. 27 from Publix in Carrollton.
“We’ll also be at Walmart in Carrollton from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday, through Dec. 16,” Careins said.
Another bright spot could be the Adopt-a-Pet Toys for Tots drive being coordinated by the Carroll County Animal Shelter and Carroll County Humane Society.
Through Dec. 21, the shelter will accept the donation of a child’s toy, worth $15 or more, as qualification for a reduction in animal adoption fees.
A fully vetted dog or puppy can be adopted for $40, while a cat or kitten can be adopted for $20 under this drive. Regular adoption fees for dogs is $115, while the regular fee for cats is $95.
"Santa will be visiting the shelter next Tuesday, Dec. 11, to pose for pictures with the shelter animals," said Teresa Leslie, president of Carroll County Humane Society. "People who adopt while he is on site can get a family photo with Santa, and of course he always makes time to chat with children wherever he goes."
The shelter is open Monday through Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Adoptions are available until 4 p.m.
Another local competition is the Toys for Tots Truck Challenge.
“All the new truck dealers in Carroll County are competing with each other to see which dealership can collect the most toys,” he said.
Careins said toy donations are accepted from ages of birth through 12 years, but especially needed are toys for children from birth to 2 years and the older age group of 9-12 years.
“We always seem to get an abundance in the middle age range, but we’re always struggling for toys for younger and older children,” he said, “but all toys are appreciated.”
He said the donated toys should be new and not gift-wrapped.
“We prefer toys costing under $30,” Careins said. “If you want to donate more than $30, you can purchase more toys and your gift will go further.”
Toys can be put in any of the more than 100 Toys for Tots collection boxes around the area. The collection site locations can be found by going online to www.toysfortots.org.
Careins said any families with children, who want to apply for assistance in Carroll County, the deadline is Dec. 10. Applications can be made at any school. He said Heard County applications have already been closed.
Distribution of donated toys will begin Dec. 17, Careins said.
He emphasized that Toys for Tots is locally funded for local children.
“All the toys donated stay right here in west Georgia and Cleburne County, Ala.,” he said.
Anyone wishing to volunteer can contact Careins at email@example.com.