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75TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE MARINE TOYS FOR TOTS

Neighbors Helping Neighbors In Celina

Article by Christine Clark

Photography by Provided

Originally published in Celina Lifestyle

When people are asked why they came to Celina, they will likely talk about the sense of community that is shared among the residents. They will talk about the people here, how open and friendly they are, and how willing neighbors are to help neighbors. That is true for KJ Clark and Corbett Howard. Both are active members of the Preston Trails Rotary Club and this year’s leaders of Celina’s second annual Toys for Tots campaign. These two have led the partnership with the Preston Trails Rotary, the City of Celina, the Celina Independent School District, and the American Legion Post 145. 

This year marks the 75th Anniversary of the Marine Toys for Tots Program. Their mission is to collect new toys and distribute those toys to less fortunate children during the Christmas season. Both KJ and Corbett are military veterans themselves and are passionate about connecting the community and those who have served this country. The Marine Toys for Tots program is the perfect combination to bring both passions together.

2021 was a remarkable year in which 1,230 toys were collected by the Celina Toys for Tots campaign.  And in this second year of operation, hopes are high that even a greater number will be collected.  The organization will have boxes stationed around the Celina community to collect your donations.  KJ and Corbett are excited to see how the community answers the call to help. All the toys collected in Collin County will stay within Collin County through donations to local organizations such as Grace Bridge and Blue Santa. The last day to donate is Wednesday, December 7th.

On the last collection day, the community will join forces with the local Marine Corps Reserves to host a drive-through toy collection assembled on the Celina Square. Using our beautiful town square, Fox4 News will broadcast live from the event while volunteers will be on hand to help unload your cars beginning at 6:00 pm. This special event will include a visit from Ean Sullivan, a Retired Marine Corp Colonel who served in Vietnam. There will also be free hot cocoa from Kim and Cleve Wickliffe with Swirls Bakery.

The motto for Rotary International is “Service above self”.  This group takes its mission very seriously and we’re proud that they have been a fixture in Celina for many years. They’ve been involved in Celina festivals including Cajun Fest and Friday Night Markets. They participated in building a local Habitat for Humanity home here in Celina as well. Their biggest fundraiser is the Annual Flag Program. All of these fundraising programs allowed them to offer $5000.00 in scholarships to graduates of both Celina and Gunter High schools and $9,600 to the Collin College Foundations in 2021.

This program is near and dear to KJ’s heart.  He shares a time when his family was struggling, and they were given Christmas toys for their children. He reminds us that you are not only giving a toy to a child, but you are giving the gift of encouragement to the parent.  This simple gesture can help a struggling family, reduce their load, and show them that their community cares.

How can you participate? Simply purchase a new and unwrapped toy for any age or gender child. While all toys are greatly appreciated, gifts for preteens and teens are most in need.  You can drop off your toys at any drop station around town until the final day of collection.

There are additional sponsors that the Preston Trail Rotary Club would like to thank including Lamar National Bank, The UPS Store, and Mobility Credit Union.

Learn more about the Preston Trail Rotary Club at RotaryCelina.org

Meetings are 1st and 3rd Friday of the month at Lamar National Bank, 110 S. Preston Rd, Celina, TX 75009

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