Toy drive nears end

ST. CLAIRSVILLE – “We were surprised last year at how many more people needed help,” says Tim Wilson, co-chair for the Fraternal Order of Police Associates Lodge #13 Annual Toy Drive. The group was pleased and grateful at the drive’s community support which more than doubled from the year before. However, the number of families in need also more than doubled.

This is the last week for donors to participate by dropping items off at the St. Clairsville Chamber office, Valley Plaza Monro Muffler, Wilson Appraisal Service and Valley Plaza AT&T. AT&T, located near Kroger’s, is also offering 10 percent off of accessories purchases to customers dropping off toys. The drop boxes will be available until Friday, Dec. 7. Monetary donations can also be mailed to the FOPA #13 at P.O. Box 291, St. Clairsville, 43950.

New, unwrapped toys, books and gifts for infants through 18 years, girls and boys, will be accepted. Cash donations will also be accepted and used to purchase gift cards for teens. However, the drive is not for clothing items.

Doug McGilton, president of the FOPA #13, recounts stories from last year: a woman from the Belmont County AARP hand-crafting a large wagon that went to a young mother with four children; a little boy who wanted a “Cars” bicycle, and the only bicycle donated to the drive was a “Cars” bike. Wilson also speaks of a woman who called him to apologize about not being able to donate at the parade, but then brought bags of toys to his office for three weeks.

Both the AARP Belmont County Chapter 2994 and the Wilson Shannon Questers have donated toys to the drive all three years. Other groups joining the effort this year include the Belmont County Safety Council, the United Mine Workers of America Local #1473, the St. Clairsville Area Chamber of Commerce, the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #6 and the new AT&T store at Valley Plaza.

“We know the economy is tough,” adds McGilton. “But think about the kids that will have something to open on Christmas morning because of your donation.” Toys from the drive, toys made at the Belmont Correctional Institute and food from the Food Pantry are distributed through the St. Clairsville Council of Churches. Last year, 198 families received holiday packages through the Council.

“It would be great if everyone who came to the parade next year brought a toy to drop off. We’d love to fill the truck up,” Wilson adds. The group plans to make a fourth showing at St. Clairsville’s annual holiday parade in mid-November.

For more information call Wilson at (740) 695-2220 or John Thurman, toy drive co-chair, at (740) 391-3337.