The Owensboro branch of the Toys for Tots organization is gearing up for another busy Christmas season of providing toys to children in need throughout the community.
Lou Drawdy, Toys for Tots coordinator, said Tuesday that he has been actively working on the Christmas 2021 toy drive since Jan. 16 — one day after filing his paperwork for the previous Christmas toy drive.
The nonprofit organization has set up shop in the Owensboro Salvation Army Distribution Center at 215 S. Ewing Road, organizing toys that have been collected from various businesses and organizations throughout the community to get them ready for distribution.
“We want to gather toys and give them away to the children in the area,” Drawdy said. “We gather toys, but we also request donations, and we receive grants from other organizations, including the national (Toys for Tots) organization.”
Drawdy said toys are gathered in Daviess, Hancock, Henderson, Hopkins, McLean, Muhlenberg, Ohio and Union counties.
Fire departments, family resource centers and organizations such as the Salvation Army and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul provide Toys for Tots with information about local children in need each Christmas.
“What we do is, all the toys we collect basically stay in the county from which we collect them,” Drawdy said.
If toys are donated by large organizations that provide services for people beyond Daviess County, such as Atmos Energy, those toys are then spread out among a wider geographical area.
A U.S. Marine Corps veteran, Dowdy’s involvement in Toys for Tots stretches back 50 years.
“For me, it started in 1961, when I joined the Marine Corps Reserve in Owensboro,” he said. “We were involved in Toys for Tots, but at that time it was toys that were used, and we would repair them, clean them up and give them away.”
Drawdy said his first donation to Toys for Tots was an HO scale toy train set.
Despite having to organize a literal mountain of toys before Christmas, Drawdy said he doesn’t find the organization aspect of the toy drive to be all that difficult.
“No, not really,” he said. “I know that certain things have to be done a certain way, and because of my previous training, it is not too bad.”
Owensboro resident Phillip Evans was also on hand Tuesday at the Salvation Army to help sort toys.
Evans said something like a new toy from Toys for Tots can make all the difference to a child in need at Christmas.
Drawdy said that while he has a good team around him, the nonprofit could use some additional volunteers to pick up toys from local businesses collecting toys.
“The problem I have is we are getting old, some of us are kind of beat up,” he said.
For more information about donating or becoming a volunteer, visit https://owensboro-ky.toysfortots.org/.
Nathan Havenner, Messenger-Inquirer, firstname.lastname@example.org, 270-228-2837