Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division (NSWC PCD) Public Affairs Officer Jeffrey Prater acts as one of Santa’s many helpers at the 58th annual Children’s Christmas Party Dec. 10, 2008.
Marianna- The US Marine Corps, Toys For Tots program is one of the biggest of it's type in the country. It's also had a great, longstanding record for making the most out of donations.
"People contribute money which, we convert it into toys. 97 cents on the dollar goes to toy's" explained local coordinating Toys For Tots officer, Tom Perry.
The program's efficiency has helped make Toys for Tots a favorite over the years for corporations who have want to help make a difference. Corporations such as Chipola Ford in Marianna.
"Ford gave us an opportunity to choose a charitable organization for them to contribute up to $500 for every person who registered online" Chipola Ford dealership owner, Will Rogers said. "So we tripled that in our donation to them. So it was a way for ford and us to give back to the community."
Perry told us the donation would go a long way to helping under-served children in Jackson County. "Last year, we served 700 children, 225 families at Christmas time and each child got at least three toys."
But this Christmas, Marianna city officials said they were trying to make Toys for Tots even bigger than the year before.
Perry told us making a child's Christmas was as simple as buying a toy, then dropping it in one of the 70 boxes located in businesses throughout Marianna. City Manager, Jim Dean sweetened the deal. He said people who dropped off the toys at City Hall could also enter their name in a raffle to win a free month of utilities.
"That does includes your water, your sewer and natural gas" Dean said. "So when we have a resident come in on city utilities, they can register for that drawing and their name is drawn out of the box."
Perry said, "The look on the parents faces when they're picking up the toys- they're totally grateful. We even had some people give us Christmas cards with notes in them".
The city planned the drawing for the free utilities for December 10. Also, any parents who need holiday help from Toys for Tots can sign-up at the Anchorage Children's Home office on Clinton Street in Marianna.