Meadville Tribune

December 11, 2012

Toys for Tots makes final push for items amid bleak giving season

By Keith Gushard
Meadville Tribune

MEADVILLE — Carrie Nageotte can’t remember a time in the past 16 years when things looked this bleak for local children at Christmas.

“Our collections are about half of what we had last year,” said Nageotte, who has coordinated the Toys for Tots program in Crawford County since it started locally 16 years ago.

This coming Monday at noon will be Nageotte’s deadline on whether the local countywide program will be able to meet its needs for this Christmas.

Though that deadline is eight days ahead of the Christmas holiday, the time is necessary, according to Nageotte. “We have to have time to get the toys to the families — that’s why the need is now,” she said softly.

Toys for Tots collects and distributes toys for needy families for children as old as age 16. The families with children who are age 16 must have younger children as well, she said. Toys for Tots uses Department of Public Welfare guidelines to determine if a family is eligible, and families must sign a declaration form, she said.

As an example of how tough things are this year, the eight collection boxes in western Crawford County in the Conneaut Lake, Conneautville and Linesville areas were practically empty when checked Thursday, she said.

“I think people haven’t gotten into the holiday spirit yet,” said Nageotte, noting weather can influence it. “I think people are not in the Christmas spirit because we’ve had no snow.”

So far, the local Toys for Tots program has been able to fill only 200 of its 319 family requests, according to Nageotte. While 414 children will get toys from the program, another 296 children are in jeopardy of not getting a present, she said.

Plus, there are additional strains on the program within the next week or two as requests come in from area service agencies, Nageotte said. Annually, another 50 to 100 children are added to the Toys for Tots program from those service agency requests, Nageotte said.

Any donations received Dec. 21 and after are held to the following year because of the time needed to pack and get the toys to a family, according to Nageotte.

“By then (Dec. 21), it’s essentially too late for that Christmas,” Nageotte said.

Nageotte has a staff of a half dozen volunteers who pack the toys for the families including “chief elf” Joyce Keenan, who was busy Monday filling orders at the Toys for Tots storage site at Vantage health care in Meadville.

“We try to give one large gift, two smaller gifts, an activity like a puzzle or coloring book, a game for the family and three books (for each child),” said Keenan. “Pack and stack, that’s what we do.”

Families then are contacted to make arrangements to pick up the toy package.



You can help

New, unwrapped toys for Toys for Tots may be dropped off at various locations throughout Crawford County. Program officials said the hardest age group to receive donations for young teens. Donors are asked to check the suggested age level on the toys. Suggested items include drawing/artist kits and model-building kits.

Tax deductible donations for the Crawford County Toys for Tots program may be sent to Toys for Toys, 1305 S. Main St., Meadville, Pa., 16335.

Drop-off sites

New, unwrapped toys for Toys for Tots may be dropped off at various locations throughout Crawford County. Toy donations are needed by Monday at noon for distribution for this Christmas. Drop off locations are:

Meadville area

Wal-Mart

Big Lots

Acutec Precision Machining

Dollar General (downtown and Vernon Township)

The Movies @ Meadville

Vantage Home Health Care (South Main Street and Park Avenue Plaza locations)

Smith-Gray Buick GMC

Griffin Motors

Lang Motors

Weber-Harris Ford Lincoln

Valesky’s

Giant Eagle

The Meadville Tribune

Meadville Area Ambulance Service

Annen Community Mental Health Service

Applebee’s

Chovy’s

Little Caesar’s Pizza

Mercer County State Bank (Route 322 office)

First National Bank of Pennsylvania (Park Avenue and Route 322 offices)

Marquette Savings Bank (South Main Street and North Street offices)

Citizens Bank (Chestnut Street office)

Northwest Savings (South Main Street office)

Knapp Chiropractic

FNB Loan

Tamarack Packaging

Hovis Auto Parts



Conneaut Lake/Conneautville area

First National Bank

Tink’s Subs

Dollar General

Lakeview Ford

Street Track ’n Trail



Linesville area

MFG Corp.

Dollar General

Linesville Veterans of Foreign Wars



Cochranton area

Market Place super market

Mercer County State Bank

French Creek Cafe



Saegertown area

H&H super market

Saegertown Hardware

Dollar General



Cambridge Springs area

Mercer County State Bank

Dollar General

Cambridge Springs Rehabilitation Center



Titusville area

Wal-Mart

American Legion

Hovis Auto Parts

Little Caesar’s Pizza

YWCA Fun Factory

PNA Club

Salvage Direct