Jim Ribley serves as the Toys for Tots coordinator for our area. In addition to getting involved with the organization due to his involvement with the Marines, his inspiration comes from the heart.
“I am both a father and a grandfather. I think that part of me makes it easier to want to help out in any way I can. It makes you feel good to give back, and this community makes giving back easy.”
Over the last few years, Toys for Tots has seen tremendous growth.
“In 2020 we donated 10,000 toys and in 2021 we donated almost 14,000. As people become aware of the program it is going to continue to increase the amount of toys we give out to children in need.”
Also partnering with Toys for Tots is Jimmy Harrell of Jimmy G’s Toy Box in Orange Beach. If you are familiar with Jimmy, we featured his garage in our launch.
On November 12, Jimmy G’s hosted the second annual Toys for Tots gathering. Attendees brought an unwrapped, new toy and helped fill up the tailgate of a 1953 pick-up truck. While Jimmy G’s assists with Toys for Tots, the garage has also been recently used as a donation site for Orange Beach’s Hurricane Ian Relief Initiative. People gathered and filled up an 18-wheeler donated by ACE Hardware with supplies to the brim. Harrell is also a big supporter of local schools in the area, offering up his garage for fundraising.
Stan and Janice Moss with the Christian Service Center (CSC) know a thing or two about giving back.
The Center, which has given over 94,300 meals to people in need this year, is eager to help.
“If we get alerted that someone needs something we always lend a hand,” says Stan.
“We have a summer program where families can come once per week and get a basket full of food for each family member. Inside the basket is food to last each person one week until their next pick up,” says Janice.
The CSC also features a Birthday Wishes Box lead by Mary Claire Dover that comes stocked with goodies for a child anywhere between 2-12.
In addition to Birthday Wishes Boxes, the CSC also aids in a local Christmas cause; Toys for Kids alongside Wildflowers Boutique owned by mom-daughter duo, Terri Long and Candice Duncan.
“The CSC came to me one day and said they were in need of bikes for Christmas presents. Since we gathered toys in the store as well, I went on down to Fisher’s and asked if we could gather them in the downstairs area,” says Long. “We made it an entire event. We asked people for $25 to get in the door; by the end of the night we had bicycles.”
Over the next two years, the event would outgrow Fisher's.
“Perdido Beach Resort reached out and said ‘we can do it’ but I was scared.”
Two years later, they reached out to Long again; she accepted.
“We are so blessed to live here. Everywhere you turn someone is saying something about how the people there helped them. This year will be the biggest event we have held; we added three live auctions and sponsorship levels. When you go to the CSC, you can see how much giving means to everyone. That is why we do what we do. Giving is a lifestyle; every dollar we make goes directly to the CSC to use for families in need.”
If you would like to bring a donation or drop off a toy for the event, stop by Wildflowers Boutique in Orange Beach, a pick-up location for the CSC. For questions, please call the store at 251-961-9453.