Another Year for Toys for Tots, Food for Families

Lopez and grand daughter Doublecheck a List



Two or three cars at a time will drive up to the Toys for Tots headquarters on West Beech Street in Lamar and get in line to identify themselves to one of Darlene Lopez’s volunteers.  While they’re waiting for their name to be matched for a holiday gift bag which was sorted and listed several days earlier, several boxed holiday meals are delivered to the occupants of the car.  Everything matches up and within moments they’re on their way, making room for the next car in line.

“It’s easier for us this year with the distribution taking place on the 23rd.  This will give everyone a chance to get a day’s break instead of having to hurry around on the day before Christmas,” explained Lopez.  The goal of handing out gifts has been unchanged for several decades for the local Toys for Tots drive, but the process has become streamlined over the past several years.  “We accept only brand new toys instead of used ones as it used to take so long to try to sort and clean them and many of them were just unrepairable.  Now, we only deliver the gifts in person to those who absolutely can’t come to us and we have the Rebel Outlaw Race Club to thank for doing the driving for the meals and gifts,” she added.

More Holiday Meals Being Dropped Off

The meals are cooked and prepared by Jason and Amber Herrera and their helpers and dropped off to the gift site on West Beech Street.  “This year we’re serving 325 families, 445 kids and 796 meals, all total, which is up from last year.  We were actually delivering during Covid last year and we are serving more people this year,” she said.

Gifts Ready for Pick Up

It’s not always a perfect process as one driver who pulled in for gifts wasn’t to be found on any of the list of names that had been submitted in advance.  There’s a delay, but apparently there are toys and gifts kept in reserve for such situations.

About a dozen helpers are on hand through the morning, many from Lopez’s family, young and old and those who have donated their time year after year.  The window for the drive-through was from 9am to 11am, but the volunteers are getting ready at the site by 7am and won’t stop until the last family has been served and by around noontime.  Their day is done, but their efforts will have provided hundreds of people a happier holiday come Christmas morning.
By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: City of LamarCountyEventsFeaturedHistoryHoliday


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