Toy drive to bring 'a time of smiles'
ARLINGTON, Va. — Smiles might be hard to come by for some military children around this time of year, especially with the holiday season approaching and those who have a parent or two serving in a combat zone.
But for the Boys and Girls Club of America and the national retailer Toys “R” Us, there’s no time like the present for, well, presents and smiles.
The third annual national campaign “A Time For Smiles” provides millions of dollars worth of toys to kids around the world who are members of Boys & Girls Clubs. Toys “R” Us has pledged a donation of $1 million dollars in toys to launch the campaign, which kicked off Monday with the announcement on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
More than 45,000 pounds of toys have been or are being shipped to U.S. military installations overseas so that 30,000 dependent children who are registered members of the Boys and Girls Club affiliates at overseas military bases can get a donated toy for the holiday season.
“Not only are these children living in a foreign land, but for some, they might have a family member away, in harm’s way, and there’s additional stress on the family now,” said Tim Richardson, vice president for military affairs for the Boys and Girls Club. “If you are 10 years old, whatever age, and an unexpected present arrives, well, we just hope it brings a ray of sunshine.”
The Boys and Girls Club of America has roughly 3,300 affiliates worldwide serving about 3.6 million children ages 6 to 18. Overseas, there are 390 affiliates.
A vast majority of the 30,000 overseas children recipients are Army, which has been affiliated with the Boys and Girls Club since 1996, said Kevin Montgomery, chief of Youth Services for the Army. “A Time For Smiles” not only gives children a gift, but the older teens gain life skills as they are asked to organize the toy distribution program for the respective clubs, said P.K. Tomlinson, deputy director for Army Youth Services.
“Toys and kids is the sort of thing that just goes together,” Richardson said. “Kids and smiles, even better.”
Donation of $1, $5 or $10 can be made through Dec. 24 to the Toys “R” Us Children’s Fund at any store, including Kids “R” Us or Babies “R” Us, or online at www.toysrus.com.