Northwest EMS collects for Toys for Tots

By on December 19, 2018

This is the time of year that thoughts of toys fill children’s heads. Thanks to area residents and their donations to Northwest EMS’ Toys for Tots collection, children in need may find that special toy under their tree.

Northwest EMS’ community outreach coordinator Lori Shenk said donations of unwrapped toys topped last year. Donation boxes were collected Monday, Dec. 10 and delivered via three Northwest EMS ambulances and a Pleasant View Retirement Community van to the distribution center.

This donation box at Pleasant View Retirement Community, Manheim, overflowed quickly this year. (Submitted photo)

“It is very exciting to witness not only the generosity of residents in our communities and even more, it’s humbling to have the opportunity to walk into a distribution warehouse and see the volume of generosity from surrounding communities. The magic of Christmas morning is something that not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to provide for their own children,” she said. “It’s a privilege to be a part of the work of the U.S. Marine Corps reserve to do something this important.”

Collection boxes were set out in locations throughout Manheim, Elizabethtown, and the Lititz area on Nov. 1. Collection sites included: the lobby of East Donegal Township’s municipal office; Brickerville Fire Company lobby during Tuesday evening Bingo; Esbenshade’s Garden Center, Lititz; Pleasant View Retirement Community; Masonic Village Farm Market; Manheim Community Library; and Two Cousins Pizza, Manheim.

Shenk also was on-hand to collect toys at several events including the Manheim Lions Club Santa Run 5K — participating runners were asked to bring a toy when they registered and received their participation bib; Manheim Lions Club Tree Lighting Ceremony in Market Square, the Pennsylvania Bed & Breakfast Inn’s annual conference; and Elizabethtown Is Extraordinary! 2018, the town’s Extraordinary Give location.

The U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program originated in 1977. It is focused on helping less fortunate children experience the joy of Christmas by collecting and distributing new, unwrapped toys. According to the Toys for Tots website, local campaigns are conducted annually in over 800 communities covering all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

Northwest EMS had been participating in Toys for Tots since 2013, and toy donations have grown over the years. Shenk said most collections of toys are picked up by Toys for Tots volunteers, but she prefers to do the delivery.

Lori Shenk and Darren Martin (in the ambulance) of Northwest EMS and Amanda Hall and Jason Martzall of Pleasant View Retirement Community collect boxes of toys donated during the Toys for Tots Drive. (Photo by Rochelle Shenk)

“Being able to promote our collection and deliver it in a caravan fashion raises awareness and generate excitement, which generates more donations,” she said.

In 2013 and 2014, Northwest EMS needed one ambulance to deliver to the warehouse. Donations grew, and in 2015 and 2016, two ambulances were required to deliver the donated toys. Last year, three ambulances delivered toys to the warehouse.

“I can’t take any more than three ambulances from our fleet without impacting our ability to staff 9-1-1 calls, so I reached out to Pleasant View for assistance,” Shenk said.

The retirement community donated the use of one if its vans and a driver. Amanda Hall, Pleasant View’s sales and marketing manager, said staff, residents and fitness club members provided toys for the Toys for Tots collection.

“For many of our residents, it’s an opportunity to purchase a toy during the holidays; some of them no longer have younger children to buy toys for,” she explained. “We at Pleasant View are happy to help with transportation for the toys and to make Christmas time a wonderful time for all children.”

Rochelle Shenk is a correspondent for the Lititz Record Express. She welcomes your comments and questions at RAASHENK@aol.com.

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