As the holiday season rolls around, Nodaway County citizens begin to give some children a better chance at seeing gifts under the tree on Christmas morning.
Donation jars and drop off boxes for money and toys have been available at local businesses as of Oct. 15 in Maryville as a part of the annual Toys 4 Tots of Nodaway County program.
The community engagement project provides gifts to children newborn to 12 years old during the holiday season, focusing on making Christmas an enjoyable experience.
Nationally, the Toys 4 Tots program is run by the United States Marine Corps reserve. The cause was founded in 1947 by reservist Major Bill Hendricks, who was inspired to distribute toys to children whose parents could not afford to buy gifts for Christmas.
In Nodaway County, Toys 4 Tots is run by Today’s Civic Women and Community Services, Inc.
Cathy Rybolt, special projects coordinator with Community Services Inc., works directly with donors and families during the holiday season. Rybolt said another program in Community Services, Adopt a Family, goes hand-in-hand with Toys 4 Tots during the holiday season.
“With the Adopt a Family program, people are able to apply to directly help specific people,” Rybolt said. “After the paperwork, we take out the middle-man and allow them to directly contact families.”
Last year, Toys 4 Tots of Nodaway County helped 113 families by providing gifts through donations received at bins throughout Maryville. The exact number of Adopt a Family participants was not provided, but Community Services Inc. said a significant amount of families received support from the Nodaway County community, enough that there were more people willing to help than was needed in 2018.
Rybolt said the number of families needing support is expected to increase this year, as people have already been reaching out to Community Services regarding donations.
“We have people on standby ready to help,” Rybolt said. “That’s really the amazing thing about it. Families may be struggling, but this community has no shortage of people willing to come together.”
According to the Toys 4 Tots website, the program has distributed 566 million toys nationally to date, with those going out to support more than 258 million children. Community Services Inc. said staff is honored to help the program reach children locally.
In 2017, Toys 4 Tots of Nodaway County helped 153 families through donations alone, a number Rybolt said Community Services is proud of.
Sharayaha King is the new Nodaway County outreach director at Community Services, Inc. and has been a leader on the Toys 4 Tots project. King said she has enjoyed working on the project closely with Today’s Civic Women and seeing the community collaborate, even as early as October.
“Seeing the community come together and help one another is incredible,” King said. “Seeing the sacrifices people make — there’s nothing like it.”
Several businesses have donation jars or drop-off boxes in Maryville: Ace Hardware, Bank Midwest, Casey’s General Store, Citizens Bank and Trust, Dollar General, Harvest Blessings, Maryville Forum, Meyer Auto, Nodaway News Leader, Nodaway Valley Bank, Senior Center, Walgreens, Wells Bank and Nodaway Broadcasting Studios.