SAVANNAH RIVER SITE, S.C. (WJBF) — It’s a tradition that makes the holidays a lot brighter for children in the area. Workers at Savannah River Site are making sure Santa has plenty of presents. Thursday, November 5 was a celebration of the holiday season — Toys for Tots pickup day.
“It’s where everybody on-site comes to celebrate all the donations and bikes and Angels and toys that we’ve collected over the last month and a half,” SRS Toys for Tots Campaign Chairwoman Danielle Elliott told NewsChannel 6’s Shawn Cabbagestalk.
“I’m blessed and honored to be able to serve in this community in which we’re all a part of,” Salvation Army Lt. April Tiller said.
Savannah River Site employees have donated more than 400,000 toys since 1991 for area children to benefit the annual Toys for Tots and Angel Tree campaign. This year is no different, the total SRS contribution for the 2019 Toys for Tots Campaign was more than 20,000 toys and 600 bikes.
“It’s very overwhelming. It warms my heart to see that so many people I work with are this giving and caring,” Elliott added.
For the nineteenth year, employees also sponsored the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree Program. SRS employees adopted 730 area children, giving toys and clothing items to specific Angel Tree recipients.
“Over the last two months, we have taken applications for clients throughout four counties and filled out what we call the Angel Tree applications. SRS has taken those Angels and fulfilled their holiday wishes so that we can serve them to the community in just a few short two weeks,” Lt. Tiller added.
Once the toys are sorted, Aiken Marines will distribute them to children in Aiken, Allendale, Barnwell and Edgefield counties, as well as the cities and towns of North Augusta, Beech Island, Belvedere, Williston, Salley, and Couchton. The Marines from Augusta supply toys to Burke, Columbia, Glascock, Hancock, Jefferson, Jenkins, Lincoln, McDuffie, Richmond, Taliaferro, Warren, Washington and Wilkes counties and the town of Wrens.
After volunteers filled a number of different side trucks, a parade formation led by Santa Claus and his helpers takes them away for distribution. “It’s just a joy to see the parents when they come to pick up the toys knowing that their children will get something this year. It’s just a good feeling to give back to the community,” United States Marine Corps Staff Sgt. (Ret) Gregory Allen said.
The annual event is managed by Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, LLC and supported by the Department of Energy-Savannah River; National Nuclear Security Administration-Savannah River; Savannah River Remediation LLC; Centerra Group, LLC; Augusta Building Trades; and Parsons. These companies and employees contribute in a number of ways, including donating toys and making monetary contributions.
Meanwhile, the Salvation Army holiday kettle program is still underway. Donations made through the program are a major part of fundraising for the entire year for the organization. “So it doesn’t just pay for Christmas assistance, but it’s paying for light bills throughout the year. So when we get a phone call, Hey, I need help with my rent or lights, we use the kettle money for that. So this is the only time of year that we actually get to really do this big mass rush of donations,” Lt. Tiller shared.
To connect with your local Toys for Tots program, follow this link: https://www.toysfortots.org/donate/toys.aspx