Toys for Tots begins collection this week

COLUMBIA CITY — This week, Whitley County residents will start seeing Toys for Tots collection boxes popping up.

Nearly 40 locations between Churubusco, Columbia City, South Whitley and Larwill, will be ready to take donations for the program, which served 575 local children last Christmas.

Coordinators Matt and Tiffany Careins hope to reach even more families in 2017. Toys for Tots is an organization that provides Christmas gifts to families with children, from newborns up to age 18.

Last year, 3,506 items were given to families. All gifts donated in Whitley County are given to Whitley County children.

This year’s donation campaign for new, unwrapped toys begins Nov. 1 and continues through Dec. 20. Monetary donations can also be made. Checks may use sent to 317 N. Main St., Columbia City.

Each child in the program is given three toys, a book, a board game or puzzle, and two small “stocking stuffer” items. Toys for Tots especially seeks gifts for teenage children and infants. Teenagers may enjoy items such as make-up kits, body sprays, small remote-controlled drones and tools.

The Careinses hope to reach more children and families this year. Last year, more gifts were donated than distributed, speaking to the generosity of the community.

Parents and guardians who need assistance with Christmas presents this year can sign up at their child’s school or online at, which is new for 2017.

Careins says signing up is easy — there are only a few requirements for qualifying families:

  • Live in Whitley County
  • Feel like you truly need help
  • Have to be a parent/guardian of the child

Only one form per household may be filled out.

Toys for Tots doesn’t ask for specific details about income or financial need.

“We use the honor system,” Careins said. “If you need assistance — ask for it. Some families might make decent money, but there are situations that make the holidays difficult. People have been honest and haven’t been taking advantage. On the day of pick-up, you can see the gratitude in these parents who truly need help at Christmas.”

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