The following organizations are collecting toys and other items to help underprivileged children and families during the holiday season:
• Toys for Tots — Marine Corps League Detachment 708 of Spring Hill, sponsor of the Marine Corps Reserve's Toys for Tots program in Hernando County, has bins set up at various locations where donations of new, unwrapped toys may be dropped off:
Spring Hill: Accuform Signs, Accurate Automotive, Atria Evergreen Woods, AVA Hot Spot, BB&T Banks, Bridgewater and Nantucket apartments, Changes Adult Fitness Center, Compass Banks, Complete Technology Solutions, County Line Cafe, CVS at Mariner and Cortez boulevards, Discovery Point Daycare, Dr. Tim Terlep's office, Dunkin' Donuts, Extreme Bicycles, Evolution Hair Design, Fantastic Pre-School & Daycare, Fun Fitness Factory, Gold's Gym, Hernando County Utilities, Hernando County Veterans Services, Sweetbay supermarket, Superior Bank, Mirage Hair Studio, Hair Affair, Hernando Mitsubishi, Jiffy Lube, Mariner Bowling Lanes, New-U-Weight Loss Center, Northcliffe & County Line Hess Station, Pisano's, Pinch A Penny (Kass Circle), Post Office (Kass Circle location), Printing Plus, Rizzo's Pizza, Silverthorn Clubhouse, Spin City, Spring Hill Fire & Rescue, Spring Hill Lanes, Springstead High School, Sterling House, State Farm Insurance, Sweet Bay Supermarket, Susie's Again and the UPS Stores.
Brooksville: AVA Hot Spot, Central High School, CiCi's Pizza, Cracker Barrel, Dunkin' Donuts (Broad Street), Central High School NJROTC, Cox Lumber, Discovery Point Daycare, High Point Clubhouse, Marine Corps League 708, Palm Harbor Home Sales, Pine Grove Elementary School, Physical Therapy Services, Register Chevrolet, West Hernando Middle School, Cagliannone Miller Anthony Attorneys at Law, Tree Care by Robert Miller, Shoe Carnival, USMC Recruiting and Wells Fargo Financial.
Countywide: Beall's Outlet stores, Big Lots, Family Dollar stores, Dollar General stores, Hernando County Utilities, Hernando County tax office, Veterans Services, Recycle Stations, Publix supermarkets, Tate's Auto Body & Repair, Suncoast Schools Credit Union, Walgreens and Winn-Dixie stores. Also at VFW Post 9236 in Hernando Beach.
Families in need can register their children ages 6 months to 12 years for the Toys for Tots program. Registrations are accepted from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays through Dec. 17 at Detachment 708, 8405 Sunshine Grove Road, west of Brooksville. Parents or legal guardians must register in person and bring proof of residency (driver's license and current utility bill), birth certificates and Social Security cards for each child. For information, call (352) 796-3666.
• The YMCA Child Care's annual giving tree for families in need — Ornaments with children's requests are on trees at each of the School Age Care Programs and at the Hernando County Family YMCA lobby, 1300 Mariner Blvd., Spring Hill, as well as other locations in the community. To help, pick an ornament from a tree and purchase the desired gift. Gifts should be returned wrapped, with the ornament attached, to the YMCA no later than Dec. 12.
• The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program's annual toy drive for Daystar in Hernando County — Donations of new, unwrapped toys for children from newborn to 12 years old are needed. The following drop off locations are available: RSVP Welcome Center, Harold's Auto Repair, Belk's, Brooksville Country Club, Heritage Museum, Brooksville and Spring Hill Enrichment Centers, Cloverleaf Retirement Community, Cortez Community Bank in Brooksville, Country Kitchen, Hernando County Senior Citizens Club and The Restaurant.
Toys will be picked up on Dec. 10. Call RSVP at (352) 796-8117.
• The Christmas Angel Program of Hernando County — Donations and sponsors for children's Christmas wish lists are needed. The program serves Hernando County children from infancy through teenage years who have been deemed in need and referred by schools and charitable agencies. Sponsors are provided with the children's wish lists, including clothing sizes and toy wishes. The nonprofit organization is also seeking donations of working used computers (Windows ME or above). Those wishing to help out can call Mary or Bill Scarff at (352) 596-1552 and leave a message.
• Angel Trees — The Department of Children and Families' Kids Central Inc. has teamed with area businesses for the annual Angel Trees, which has "angels" with children's wishes on trees at the following locations:
Spring Hill: Chili's, Martinez Chiropractic, Regional Rehab (Medical Arts Building at Spring Hill Regional Hospital), Anytime Fitness, Hello Deli, Behavioral Health Associates, Doghouse Grooming, Advantage Insurance, Spring Hill MRI, Advanced Imaging and County Line Cafe.
Brooksville: Brooksville Blue Print, Coldwell Banker, Golden Corral and Mykonos.
Also at Glen Lakes Country Club and Bank of America in Weeki Wachee, and the Masaryktown Cafe in Masaryktown.
For information, call (352) 754-1111.
• Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10209 is collecting food for Christmas baskets for the needy. Donations of food items can be dropped off at the post, 14736 Edward R. Noll Drive, Spring Hill. Call (352) 796-0398 or visit vfw post10209.webs.com.
The following events are also planned:
• Seventh annual Hernando County Sheriff's Toy Run, Saturday. Meet at noon at the Wal-Mart Supercenter, 1485 Commercial Way, Spring Hill. The police-escorted run will begin at 1 p.m. from the Wal-Mart parking lot and will end at the Hernando County Sheriff's Office on Cortez Boulevard in Brooksville. All vehicles are welcome. Bring a new unwrapped toy or a Wal-Mart gift card. Following the run, lunch will be available at Roo's Pub, 20182 Cortez Blvd., Brooksville. A $4 donation for lunch is requested. Half of the proceeds will be used by the Sheriff's Office to buy more Wal-Mart gift cards for needy families in the area. Call Dave at (352) 232-3927 or Ray at (352) 584-2124.
• 19th annual Toy Run for Shriners Hospital, Dec. 13. The group will leave at 11:29 a.m. from the parking lot at the southeast corner of Truck Bypass 50 and Broad Street, Brooksville. The run is open to all bikers and clubs. Participants are to bring a new toy, which can be wrapped or unwrapped. Call Hop at (352) 597-2369 or Fred at (352) 684-7251.
• Star Search Merry Christmas Pageant, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 14 at Scotto's Bistro, inside the Quality Inn at 6172 Commercial Way, Weeki Wachee. The event teams up StarSearchPageants.com and Toys for Tots to help local children this Christmas. A toy drive will be held during the pageant to benefit Toys for Tots. Scotto's has a Toys for Tots drop-off box and information on how to apply for the Toys for Tots program, now through the day of the pageant. Monetary donations will be accepted only on the day of the pageant. Everyone attending is asked to bring at least one new, unwrapped toy for the drive. To enter the pageant or for information, call (352) 678-9588 or visit www.StarSearch Pageants.com.