It is with great delight that I'm able to report to our caring community that Toys for Tots of East Pasco met its target objective for this holiday season. Our program surpassed our stated goal of providing toys for over 4,000 deserving children in east and central Pasco.
Back in October, with the high gas prices coupled with a looming economic recession, I put the vital question to all of our capable Toys for Tots area captains: Should we reduce the number of families we intended to register, or should we boldly leap into the unknown and increase the number of children we intend to serve? The answer was clear and unanimous: We agreed to increase the number of registration forms we would circulate throughout the community.
The challenge was enormous, but I took comfort that in my 10 years as Toys for Tots head in east Pasco, our community had always risen to the challenge. I knew that we could, indeed, achieve our lofty goal if we could only get our community's vigorous support.
I am pleased to report that with the kindness of our caring community, we assisted 2,067 registered families and 4,832 children.
Our friends in the media made a huge difference. We were able to get our message out.
Of course, Toys for Tots is a grass roots program. It takes thousands of individual folks making the decision to first, purchase a toy or toys, and second, to find a convenient way of delivering them to us. This occurred beyond our wildest dream. The toys poured in and mail carriers, firefighters and our many committed community elves fetched the bounty. Our toy collection for many at-risk children continued to grow.
By Dec. 19, all our collected items were assembled at our five distribution sites. There they were carefully sorted and displayed by hundreds of deputy elves; all was ready for our distribution day. On the following Saturday, our elves acted as personal shoppers for more than 1,500 registered families. And, dear friends, our distribution went off with a flourish; and we were all truly filled with the spirit of Christmas.
On Christmas morning thousands of deserving Pasco children awoke to find that Santa has provided toys and other needed items under their Christmas tree. Our good Food for Tots friends also provided each family with a huge box of food stuffs, and my Rotary brethren assisted us by providing an abundant amount of socks, underwear, disposable diapers and dental hygiene items for many of our precious children.
This year, we welcome some new friends to our ever-growing community supporters, including numerous businesses. But the real heroes of this first-rate holiday story are the people of Pasco County. Without your cheerful support we would not have achieved our lofty goal of providing toys for an additional 1,000 children.
Hopefully, next year, our country and our community will have recovered from the bitter effects of America's economic downturn. However, no matter what the circumstance, Toys for Tots of East Pasco stands ready to met any challenge, face any hardship, and cheerfully serve the needs of Pasco's poverty-bound tots.
Bob Loring is director of East Pasco Toys for Tots.