WILLIAMSON - This makes the fourth year that April (Toler) Mullins has been pounding the pavement and recruiting sponsorships for an annual toy drive that provides a merry Christmas for a great number of local, needy children.
Although her place of employment has changed and that fact has resulted in a reformation of the drive, her heart remains in the same place and her desire to help those less fortunate than herself is still a top priority.
“We managed to provide Christmas for approximately 750 children last year, thanks to the hard work and dedication of our wonderful volunteers and generous donations,” said Mullins. “This year the economy has declined even more and there are a lot of families who were employed in 2012 but are now out of work, so we really have to kick this toy drive into high gear and take care of those in need.”
Mullins has enlisted the help of local sponsors including her employer Mingo Wayne Home Health, the Appalachian Regional Hospital, Williamson Memorial Hospital, Food City, The Williamson Daily News, The Larry Joe Harless Center, The Righteous Brew, Precision Graphics, Jeff Simpkins Law Office, Rumora and Rumora, Logan County Air-Evac, TMK Security, the Williamson Fire Department, Hurley Drug Store and Family Pharmacy.
The way the recipients of the gifts are chosen is as follows: Names will be collected from Guidance Counselors at Southside Elementary, Williamson K-8, Matewan Elementary, Kermit K-8, Lenore K-8, Gilbert Elementary, Burch Elementary, and children who are living at the Tug Valley Recovery Shelter will also be included.
This year, Mullins and her group of caring volunteers have decided to go “all out” and create a special winter wonderland evening for the children who are picked to participate, which will be held on Wednesday, December 18th at the Williamson Field House beginning at 4 p.m. The Mingo County Commission and Williamson Park Board Director Pierce Whitt agreed to allow the event to be held at this location, which is large enough to accommodate the number of people expected to attend.
Santa Claus will be making an appearance and will be arriving by Health-Net helicopter, much to the delight of the kids. Mrs. Claus and Santa’s elves will also take a break from their toy-making jobs at the North Pole and will be attending the fun-filled night. Disney characters Mickey and Minnie Mouse have also been invited to stop by, and may even bring some of their friends along to spend some time with the children.
Each child will have the opportunity to sit on Santa’s lap and have a special Christmas photo taken, followed by a treat of milk and cookies. Story telling will also take place as well as a coloring contest, and music will be provided by local D.J. Homer Mullins, of No Limit Entertainment. The donated gifts will be presented to each child from Santa. Businesses have been asked to donate small items that can fill treat bags, such as balloons, treats, ornaments, candy, etc.
Drop off locations for toys that will be dispensed that evening are at the locations of the event sponsors listed above in the article. Please do not pre-wrap the gifts to allow the sponsors to match it to the sex and age of a child that is appropriate.
Should you wish to contribute a monetary donation or need your gifts picked up, please contact Mullins at 304-475-3551 or 304-784-4459, or Rachel Baldwin at 304-235-4242 ext. 18, and arrangements will be made to accommodate you. You are also encouraged to visit the Facebook page created for the event, or the page of one of the other volunteers that include Tara Smith, Amanda Mines or Jolene Wolford.
Volunteers are also needed to help supervise the event. The group is also seeking businesses or organizations that are willing to pass out flyers containing information about the toy drive.
Also, on Saturday, November 23rd, a spaghetti dinner fundraiser will be held at the Righteous Brew Restaurant on 2nd Avenue in Williamson, beginning at 6 p.m. The candlelight dinner will include delicious spaghetti, a salad, bread, a drink and dessert, as well as musical entertainment. Door prizes will also be up for grabs. The cost will be $30 for a couple, $15 for single. All proceeds will go directly to the “Toys for Joy” drive. You may call Mullins if you would like to make an advance reservation or purchase tickets.
“It is my wish, as well as those working alongside me, to help ease the worry of a lot of area families who are struggling to provide for the everyday needs of their children, let alone thinking how they will be able to buy Christmas gifts,” said Mullins. “Christmas is all about the kids, and they all deserve to know that Santa has not forgot them.”
“We are asking that anyone who can, please join us in collecting as many toys as possible to make this a magical Christmas for the little ones of the Tug Valley area. Who knows? It may be us that need a helping hand in the future.”