Distributing Toys For Tots: 'It is a lot of work, but it's worth it'

EUGENE, Ore. -- The season of giving is in full swing, and the National Guard worked with a group of dedicated volunteers to make sure every child had a great holiday season.

Parents lined up outside the National Guard center in Springfield just before 8 a.m. Saturday to receive gifts from the Toys For Tots program. The national program is designed to help parents make their child's Christmas wishes come true, even if they are having some trouble making ends meet.

Staff Sgt. Thadd Pooler said the Toys For Tots program plans on handing out gifts for 5,000 children on Saturday and Sunday.

"It is a lot of work, but it's well worth it. Every child deserves a Christmas, even if mom and dad might be struggling. We help them get through that rough patch," said Pooler. "That's what warms the heart, a child on Christmas day getting that skateboard... that doll."

Each year since 1947, the U.S. Marine Corps' Toys For Tots Foundation helps collect toys from around the community. Captain Jessica Karlin said the program locally collected over 20,000 gifts that will go to families across Lane County.

Chris Slaven was one of the parents who received some assistance through the community

"The Christmas shopping has been very hectic. Times are a little bit tight these days," Slaven said.

This is the third year he's been coming to Toys For Tots, which has helped him make Christmas special for his two sons.

"It's really good for them. They're able to get things we couldn't otherwise afford," said Slaven. "Every time you need a helping hand, it's nice to be able to find it."

Parents register with the program and receive a number, which designates what day and order they will come through the toy drive and select gifts. Part of the distribution is based on their family's size.

"Some of the ladies have packages bigger than themselves, and we'll help walk them to their cars," said volunteer Robert Tanner.

The drive goes from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. In order to register and get toys, parents need to bring a picture ID or two pieces of documentation showing residency in Lane County. Documentation for children, like a birth certificate or social security card, is also required.