Toys will be delivered to children 0-14 in Dunsmuir, Mount Shasta, McCloud, Weed and Lake Shastina. South Siskiyou Toys for Tots also serves one family in Gazelle and one in Grenada. They typically deliver to Castella as well, Tuttle said, but didn't receive any applications this year.

There were people and presents aplenty Tuesday inside the building designated South Siskiyou County’s Toys for Tots headquarters. The volunteer crew is organizing gifts for 422 individual children from approximately 200 families; they have 42 more kids to bring smiles to than they did in 2018.

Rows of long tables set up end to end and piled high with toys, games and puzzles filled the large area used by Toys for Tots for sorting all the gift donations from the community. Multiples are all kept together, gifts for boys on one row of tables and gifts for girls on another. Games and puzzles, which will appeal to all, have their own table.

Volunteers walked around with pink cards in their hands with children’s first names and ages and the gifts they want for Christmas neatly typed. Toys for Tots assistant coordinator Cyndy Tuttle is in charge of creating those cards. Each one has information for one family. Tuttle estimated that she spent approximately 18 hours making the cards this year.

“There’s a lot of phone calling when I can’t read names [on applications], although many of the names are familiar from past years,” she said.

Only three percent of Toys for Tots’ funding is spent on administrative costs, Tuttle noted, and that’s essentially all for phone service. Everything else goes toward the kids.

Tuttle has been involved with the South County organization for 10 years. The chapter was started by coordinator Wes Anderson about 15 years ago so that south and north Toys for Tots could focus more on their own regions. Anderson, Tuttle and assistant Karen Dettman work to tackle many of the steps necessary to take toys to over 400 local children.

Toys will be delivered to children 0-14 in Dunsmuir, Mount Shasta, McCloud, Weed and Lake Shastina. South Siskiyou Toys for Tots also serves one family in Gazelle and one in Grenada. They typically deliver to Castella as well, Tuttle said, but didn’t receive any applications this year.

Though many of the same families receive toys year after year, families do have to complete a new application each year. Toys for Tots takes approximately 2,000 applications to south county elementary and middle schools every Christmas season.

Toys for Tots has been operating for over 70 years. A history of the organization explains, “Toys for Tots began in 1947 when Major Bill Hendricks, USMCR, and a group of Marine Reservists in Los Angles collected and distributed 5,000 toys to needy children. The idea came from Bill’s wife, Diane. In the fall of 1947, Diane handcrafted a Raggedy Ann doll and asked Bill to deliver the doll to an organization, which would give it to a needy child at Christmas. When Bill determined that no agency existed, Diane told Bill that he should start one. He did.”

The Marine Toys for Tots Foundation was established as a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit in 1991, at the urging of the Marine Corps, to help support the Toys for Tots program.

It’s not too late to fill out an application to receive toys this year. Applications are available at the Weed and Dunsmuir resource centers or by emailing mtshastatoysfortots@gmail.com