Columbia gears up for annual holiday toy drive
COLUMBIA — The holiday season got off to an early start Monday with the beginning of the Almeta Crayton Memorial Toys for Columbia's Youth program.
The annual project delivers holiday gifts to children ages 1 to 12 in families that cannot afford them. Columbia Parks and Recreation sponsors the program.
Community relations specialist Tammy Miller said more than 300 children received at least three gifts in 2015. The program relies on outside donations to provide the gifts.
Recreation supervisor Camren Cross said the program is always looking for new businesses to provide donations.
"With the growth of Columbia, there's also a growth in need so we're really hoping to get a good amount of donations in to help go towards this drive," Cross said.
The goal for 2016 is to serve between 300 and 400 families. The program often lacks toys for the older ages.
"It's quick to think about the little stuffed animals for the 1-, 2-, 3-year-old type kids, but definitely think about some of those 10-, 11- and 12-year-olds," Cross said. "If you're already going shopping, buy one more thing. It doesn't have to be anything extravagant. Anything that is received is very, very welcome."
Individuals can make financial and/or toy donations at multiple locations around Columbia. The program will provide tax receipts for any giftable donations.
Drop-off locations for toys or financial donations include:
- Armory Sports and Community Center, 701 E. Ash St.
- Columbia Parks and Recreation main office, 1 S. 7th St.
- Activity and Recreation Center, 1701 W. Ash St.
Drop-off locations for only toys include:
- Columbia City Hall Information Desk (1st Floor), 701 Broadway
- City of Columbia Utility Customer Service Office, City Hall (1st Floor)
- University of Missouri, Heinkel Building, Room 113, 201 S. 7th St.
- Downtown Optimist Christmas Tree lot, 1201 Grand Ave. (opens November 25)
If you feel you are eligible to be a recipient, you must fill out a registration form. Registrations will be accepted until December 9.