BY MELANIE BUCK –
RMCC and the local Marine Corps League Detachment 1261 and A.B.A.T.E. held their annual Toys for Tots Telethon that raised money and toys to help insure Polk County children have something under the tree for Christmas. The telethon is held each year at Rich Mountain Community College and is broadcast on local cable channel 19. For entertainment throughout the event, The Junior Ouachita Strings performed as well the Mena High School Drama department. MHS Drama played some of the musical selections from their recently completed show, A Christmas Carol. Norm and Opel Morgan, Chris Gregory, George Murphy, Don Squires, June Lee, Pat McCool, Gene Newton, and Erma Keener also provided music. Robby Burt and Rudi Timmerman were the Masters of Ceremony and both Santa Clause and Smoky the Bear made special appearances. “We raised well over $1000 and several thousand in toys including five brand new bicycles donated by ABATE,” said Timmerman.
George O’Daniel, Coordinator for Toys for Tots in Polk County and a portion of Montgomery County, said the annual telethon has been ongoing for at least six years. O’Daniel said in total, they raised $1800 in monetary donations in addition to approximately $1,500 in toys. “We usually raise around $20,000 worth of toys each year by the time all the money and toys are donated locally and the National Toys for Tots donates as well,” explained O’Daniel, who also said there are many organizations and individuals in the county that support the program each year.
Toys for Tots is a national program organized by the U.S. Marine Corps in 1947. Annually, the Marines average giving more than 15 million toys to more than 6.3 million less fortunate children all across the United States. O’Daniel said that 97% of all funds raised in Polk County, stay in Polk County. The remaining 3% is used for advertisement and promotional materials such as the collection boxes and flyers.
“Everyone seemed to enjoy the entertainment and presentations and we had a good telethon. Every penny collected counts and it all really helps. We couldn’t do it without the entire community participating. We just really thank everyone in the community for helping us,” said O’Daniel.
Toys and donations will continue to be accepted until December 23rd. If you would like to donate, call O’Daniel at 479-216-1217 or stop by What-Knots, or drop toys in any participating box, scattered at local businesses.