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It was bout this time last year when area residents found out there'd be no Toys for Tots in Levy County.
The Tri-Counties Toys for Tots that had been handling the effort to get toys to children during the holidays had been scaled back to just Dixie County, and locals in Levy County had to step up to help fill the need that continues to grow every year.
But representatives with the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program want the folks in Levy and Gilchrist counties to know the program is on its way back.
"This year we are excited to bring back Toys for Tots to our area and expect a great campaign," wrote Bryan Chrisp, coordinator for the program, in a letter Oct. 28.
"We are asking you to help welcome back this wonderful service to our community. We are starting as a brand new campaign and need all the assistance we can (get) ...."
"We're basically laying the groundwork for the future," said Marine Corp Reservist Frank Mathis in an interview Wednesday. "We're having to reinvent the wheel here."
Mathis, a member of the Marine Corps League Detachment 1018, said he's been busy securing drop-off locations for toys and now has more than a dozen in the Chiefland area.
"We've had a good response from businesses and citizens," Mathis said, but the organization is still looking for help, either through cash or toy donations or in acting as a drop-off location.
Chrisp said Thursday the program is also in need of people willing to help in the coordination of the effort.
"We're looking for sponsorship, volunteers and, of course, toys, toys, toys," Chrisp said.
All of this is important, Mathis said, because many children get nothing during the holidays.
"We're just trying to bring a little bit of enlightenment for the children. I just want to make some kids happy."
To help or for more information, contact Bryan Chrisp at 352-215-3434 or Frank Mathis at 904-669-4524.
Donations can be made online at toysfortots.org, though to keep online donations in the Gilchrist or Levy counties area, according to Chrisp, be sure to donate to the Newberry campaign. Donations to the Chiefland campaign online will go to Dixie County.
Toy's for donations should not be wrapped and should be new and still in their packages.
Drop-off locations in Chiefland thus far:
• R & C Mobile Home and RV Supply
• The Chiefland Citizen Newspaper
• The Chamber of Commerce (coming soon)
• Chiefland City Hall
• Scoggins Chevrolet
• Chiefland Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram
• White Ford Co.
• Tri-County Chiropractic
• Deek's Restaurant
• Central Florida Electric Coop
• Dollar General (on Highway 24, just outside of Cedar Key)