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Toys for Tots campaign gears up in Henry

By Valerie Baldowski

vbaldowski@henryherald.com

Area businesses in Henry County are being asked to support this year's Toys for Tots collection.

One of the businesses participating in this year's drive is Harry Norman Realtors, at 19 Griffin St., on the McDonough Square. Because of the economy, the need for Christmas toys for all age groups is more acute than usual, said Mark Barr, a realtor with Harry Norman. "We've got triple the requests to get toys," he said.

Those wishing to donate are asked to drop a new, unwrapped toy into one of the collection boxes around the county until the conclusion of the toy drive, Dec. 18. The boxes will be emptied by Marines from the McDonough Marine Corps League's Detachment 1339, Barr said, and the toys will be taken to Connecting Henry.

Barr, a Marine for more than 20 years, said Connecting Henry will screen families needing help buying Christmas gifts for their children, and will be the agency distributing the toys. Children up to age 12 are the ones most in need, he said.

Connecting Henry will ensure that all the families being helped by this year's Toys for Tots initiative live in Henry County, said Barr. "We're going to be serving well over 500 families," he said.

Barr will be one of the Marines who will, periodically, empty the boxes at the various locations, and he said he will most likely handle the majority of the work. The most fulfilling part of his role, he said, is working with his fellow soldiers to help others.

"More than anything, it (the toys drive) helps with the community," said Barr. "Basically, being in the civilian world for so long, being back in a detachment is gratifying."

Another Toys for Tots drop-off location is S2 Hair Studio, at 354 Keys Ferry St., in McDonough. The business has two drop boxes, and toys will be accepted Dec. 1-19. The employees at the hair salon hope to squeeze as many toys as they can into each box, said Heather Hovers, one of the owners.

"We're hoping to fill up both of those boxes, and get more boxes," Hovers said.

This year marks the first time the business has participated in the Toys for Tots campaign, she said, and collecting the toys is one way to give back to the community.

The salon usually takes part in a breast cancer walk each year, said Hovers, but the work schedule of employees prevented them from taking part in any other outreach efforts -- until now.

"We thought this was a great way [to help out]," Hovers said. Additionally, she said the employees are parents, too, and understand the need during Christmas.

"We all recently just had kids, so we couldn't ever imagine any kids not having anything on Christmas morning," Hovers added.

"Christmas is about giving, it's not always about receiving," said co-owner, Leanne Wesley. "We like to give, especially in our industry."

Regardless of age, the need to find gifts from Santa every holiday season remains, Wesley said. "The little ones are easier to buy for, but all children need something to open for Christmas."

The local office of the U.S. Marines will send a representative to empty their boxes on Dec. 19, said Wesley.

For more information about the Toys for Tots effort, call (770) 954-0200.

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On the web: www.mcdonoughmarines.com