River Park donations bring Toys for Tots closer to Valley goal

The Fresno BeeDecember 8, 2013 

The Toys for Tots collection at River Park in northeast Fresno ended Sunday afternoon with thousands of toys collected and hopeful organizers closer to their goal.

The Marine Corps League Detachment 14, a club of retired Marines in Fresno, was aiming to collect about 50,000 toys during the collection drive that kicked off Friday, said Mike Aguilar, liaison for the club.

"We're pretty close," he said Sunday during the final hour of the drive. "We had a good response from the community."

It will take a few days to tally the final count, but Aguilar said he was confident the goal of 85,000 toys would be reached. Besides toys, people also gave cash donations during the drive.

Volunteers throughout the central San Joaquin Valley came out to help during the three-day event.

Tommy Simonian, 10, of Clovis, said he volunteered with his mother Rebecca on Sunday because he wanted to make a difference.

"I really thought it would be nice to help because some people far away from here are just sad and they don't celebrate Christmas, so I wanted to help."

Although Sunday's drive was called a success, organizers said they'll still be taking donations before the Dec. 16 deadline. About 30,000 toys were already in hand before the weekend's collection drive.

Donations can be dropped off at boxes around the city. The United Way of Fresno County, which helps distribute the toys, has a list of locations on its website, www.unitedwayfresno.org. Popular drop-off sites include Hedrick's Chevrolet and branches of Bank of the West and Central Valley Community Bank.

Organizers are suggesting educational toys or games that families can play together such as board games and sports games.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6659, daguilera@fresnobee.com or @DianaT_Aguilera.

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