1,600 children in Greenbrier and Pocahontas counties will now have presents under the Christmas tree thanks to the efforts of those with the Greenbrier County chapter of the Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program.
Local Toys for Tots Coordinator, JP Stevens, said that toys were distributed on Friday, December 17, at the Army Reserve Center in Lewisburg, and again on Saturday, December 18, at the Army Reserve Center in Rainelle.
This year, thanks to a donation from the estate of U.S. Marine Corps Major General John B. Hirt, originally of Homer City, PA, children in this area received a unique gift.
“We gave out thousands of die-cast model cars to children,” Stevens said.
Hirt left home at age 17 for the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, South Carolina, to serve his country, Stevens explained, citing information provided by Hirt’s family. He attended college on the GI Bill and later went to Officer Candidate School. He retired as a Major General.
One of his hobbies was collecting die-cast model cars, Stevens continued. Through a partnership with Greenbrier Classic Cars, the incredible donation of close to 7,500 cars was made to Toys for Tots.
In addition to the die-cast cars donation, Greenbrier County Toys for Tots received the largest financial donation to date through the Dr. Cales Foundation.
“They gave us $15,000 to purchase toys for local children,” Stevens said. “That was outstanding. Many, many thanks to them.”
Through the generous donation from the Dr. Cales Foundation, and many other donations provided from those in the community, Stevens and a group of volunteers spent more than $20,000 on toys this year, he continued.
“I just can’t thank enough people,” Stevens stated. “We greatly appreciate City National Bank in Rainelle for giving us an upstairs office space every year, the Dr. Cales Foundation, the Army Reserve Center in Rainelle, Greenbrier Classic Cars, the Army Reserve Center in Lewisburg, the Patriots Motorcycle Club of Greenbrier County, who volunteered personnel, all local people who made generous donations and Major General John Hirt.”
Although the 2021 Toys for Tots campaign has come to a close, Stevens said that he is already preparing for the 2022 campaign.
“Toy donations were down this year,” Stevens said. “So, we need to start work a little early next year.”
He said that anyone who wishes to volunteer for next year’s campaign may do so by calling him at 304-673-4586.
“Our motto is every child deserves a Christmas,” Stevens said. “We do this because we just want to put a smile on every child’s face.”