Help ‘Toys for Tots’ provide Christmas to kids in need
November 28, 2016
Southern Torch (3854 articles)

Help ‘Toys for Tots’ provide Christmas to kids in need

PHOTO: This year, the Northeast Alabama Marine Corps league hopes to provide toys for approximately 800 DeKalb County children in need. (LaRue Hardinger | NE AL Marine Corps League)

By C. Campbell, Staff Writer

FORT PAYNE, Ala. — Out of the multitude of charities that seeks to make the Christmas season that much brighter for those in need, few are as recognizable as Toys for Tots. With the famous red train logo and the iconic poster of Santa Claus walking past an open closet containing a Marine Corps dress uniform, Toys for Tots has come to symbolize the idea that every child should receive a good Christmas.

Lance Corporal Landon Fant with a donated bike. (LaRue Hardinger | NE AL Marine Corps League)

Lance Corporal Landon Fant with a donated bike. (LaRue Hardinger | NE AL Marine Corps League)

Usually run by a town’s Marine Corps Reserve, the local Marine Corps League can volunteer to take on the role if there is no Reserve in the area. In DeKalb County, this is the case, with the Northeast Alabama Detachment of the Marine Corps League stepping up to provide a decent Christmas for the children of the county. Doing this for the fourth consecutive year, the local League detachment has become one of the most active groups in the Southeast when it comes to the annual toy drive.

LaRue Hardinger, the Toys for Tots coordinator for the detachment, explained that the number of children able to be assisted by the organization has grown since they took on this project in 2013. “The first year, we provided toys for 600 children,” she said, before stating that last year, the number was over 800. Hardinger estimated that the number helped by this year’s toy drive would be roughly about the same as last year. She also mentioned how those wanting to receive gifts from the organization have to apply to be eligible, and how great of a help the Department of Human Resources had been in helping the League with this year’s applications.

Former camp commandant of the Northeast Alabama detachment Bob Harrell provided more details about the local League’s involvement. According to Harrell, if a Marine Corps League detachment wants to take part in Toys for Tots, they have to volunteer to be vetted, to prove that they can handle the work.

“Everyone gets behind it wholeheartedly. There are some who do just about everything, but everyone helps out in some way. It’s a lot of work, but when we’re handing the gifts out, it’s all worth it,” he said.

In addition, the local detachment has help from other sources as well. The League’s associate members, predominantly wives and families, pitch in, and the local National Guard unit allows the detachment to use the Fort Payne armory to pass out the toys.

When it came to specifics about this year’s drive, Hardinger listed off a multitude of items that the League could use to make sure that plenty of children’s wishes could be fulfilled. For the older children helped by Toys for Tots, she said that “We could use some footballs, older boys’ bikes, art sets, things like that.” As for younger children, “Pokémon is very popular this year. So is Star Wars, Dora the Explorer, and Doc McStuffins.” However, Hardinger stressed that, for those looking to donate toys to the organization, “Buy what you would want to give to your own children or grandchildren.”

For those looking to help “Santa’s elves in Marine Corps uniforms,” as Harrell so eloquently described them, toy donation boxes and coin boxes are located throughout DeKalb County.

Monetary donations can also be made online at the Toys for Tots website (if you want to ensure that your donation stays within the county, Hardinger stated that Fort Payne would need to be selected from the drop-down box on the webpage), or by mailing a check, made out to Marine Toys for Tots, to the following address:

Marine Toys for Tots

c/o Northeast Alabama Detachment, Marine Corps League

659 Wallace Avenue NE

Fort Payne, AL, 35967

Lastly, for those wanting more information about how to help, feel free to e-mail Hardinger at

‘Toys for Tots’ Important Dates


  • Dec. 2-3 (Fri. & Sat.) – Walmart setup from 8 am – 5 pm both days

Toy Distribution dates for parents who applied & were approved at the DHR:

  • Dec. 15 – 16 (Thurs. & Fri), at Alabama National Guard Armory, 4206 Gault Avenue North, Fort Payne, 35967.

‘Toys for Tots’ Drop-Off Locations in DeKalb County:

Ider: Citizens Bank of Ider (Toy Box and Coin Box), Dollar General of Ider –  (Toy Box) First Fidelity Bank of Ider – (Toy box and Coin box) Ider Drug – (Toy box and Coin box)

Henagar: First State Bank of Henagar – (Toy box and Coin box), First National Bank of Henagar – (Toy box and Coin box), Henagar Auto Glass  – (Toy box and Coin box), Henagar Drive-In Theatre  (Toy box and Coin box)

Sylvania: Builders Supply of Sylvania – (Toy box and Coin box), Sylvania Pharmacy – (Toy box and coin box) 

Look for the 'Toys for Tots' logo at the Drop-Off Locations.

Look for the ‘Toys for Tots’ logo at the Drop-Off Locations.

Ruhama: Akins Furniture (Toy Box and Coin box), Big Time Café (Coin box)

Fort Payne: AutoNation (Toy Box), Allstate Insurance (Coin box), Badcock Furniture Toy Box), Blossom Shoppe (Coin box), Bruce’s Foodland Plus (Toy box & Coin box), Cancer Care Center (Toy box and Coin box), Dairy Queen (Coin Box & Train Cutouts), DeKalb Sportsman (Coin box), Dollar General (Toy box & Coin box), Dollar General (Toy box & Coin box), First Fidelity Bank (Toy Box & Coin Box), First State Bank (Toy box), First State Bank (Toy box),  Fort Payne Powersports (Coin box), Heil Corp. (Toy box – Employee fundraiser), IGA Grocery (Toy box and Coin box), Impact Nutrition (Toy Box), Kilgore Pharmacy (Toy box and Coin box), Kilgore Pharmacy (Coin box), Krystal (Toy box), McDonald’s (Toy box and Coin box), Sear’s (Toy box and Coin box), Stevi B’s (Toy Box and Coin Box), The Diet Clinic (Toy Box), The Package Store (Toy Box and Coin Box), UPS Shipping Center (Employee fundraiser), Waffle King (Coin Box), WFPA Radio Station (Coin box), Walgreens (Toy box), Win South Credit Union (Toy box and Coin box).

Valley Head: Dollar General (Toy box & Coin box), Tigers Inn Family Restaurant (Toy box), Valley Head Discount Foods (Coin box), Valley Head Drugs (Coin & toy box)

Mentone: Helena’s Gas Station (Coin box), Little River Hardware (Coin box), Mentone Market (Toy box & Coin box), St. Joseph’s on the Mtn. Church (Toy box)

Collinsville: Alabama Mattress Outlet (Toy box), Collinsville Public Library (Toy box & Coin box), Collinsville High School (Toy box), Durango’s BP Station (Coin box), Hi-Tech Station (Coin box), Jack’s (Toy box & Coin box)

Dawson: 4-Way Food Mart (Coin box), Gap Express Coin box)

Fyffe: Dollar General (Coin box), Fyffe Stop-N-Go (Coin box), Gipson’s Victory (Coin box) Jack’s (Coin box), Liberty Steel (Coin box)

Geraldine: Jack’s (Coin box), Minit Man (Coin box)

Rainsville: Emerson (Toy box & Coin box), Fred’s (Toy box & Coin box), Hardee’s (Coin box), Hill Top Station (Toy box & Coin box), Jo Jo’s Quick Mart (Coin box), Kelly’s Kitchen (Toy box), Kountry Korner (Coin box), McDonald’s (Toy box), Mountain Lanes (Toy box & Coin box),  R.T.I. (Toy box and Employee fundraiser), World Finance (Toy box), NACC (Toy Box and Coin box)

Powell: Northeast Alabama Community College (Toy box and Coin box)

Cartersville: Jay’s Grocery – Cartersville (north of Ider) – (Coin box)

‘Toys for Tots’ Needed Items list:

Teen items: Alabama items/Auburn items, came items, teen & tween books, Bluetooth speakers or headphones, Lava lamps (in sturdy box), Nice art sets , AXE cologne sets, Perfume & bath sets, Purses, Sports bags, Jewelry, MP4 players, Makeup & Nail polish sets, Ball caps, Fishing gear for older boys, Hair accessories – hair dryers, hair curling irons, hair straightening irons, hair bows, and hair brush sets. 

Bikes (especially for older kids), Helmets, Footballs, Baseball gloves (one left-handed glove for young boy), Electronic games for all types systems – rated Teen or Everyone, Pokemon toys, Star Wars, Minecraft sets, Lego sets for boys and girls, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sets, Shopkins sets, Dora dolls  (we REALLY need these), Ever After dolls, Monster High dolls, Barbie sets  and Barbie clothes, Frozen toys, Hello Kitty toys, Doc, McStuffins dolls, Talking Elmo, Woody or Buzz Lightyear dolls – Toy Story, Strollers for baby dolls, My Life dolls, clothes, Batman dolls, Superman dolls, Train sets for older kids, Thomas the Train sets, Paw Patrol sets, Doll houses, V-Tech Learning Pads, Fischer Price Little People sets, and Infant toys / Baby blankets. 

Southern Torch

Southern Torch


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