Thurston County Toys for Tots adds Grays Harbor to its efforts

The Toys for Tots program has been providing Christmas gifts for children in need around the nation for decades. This year, the nonprofit’s Thurston County team is including Grays Harbor County in its effort.

Any donation intended for Grays Harbor must be made through the Thurston County program — but it still will benefit kids here, emphasizes team member Leah Kochrian, who is coordinating this year’s program along with John Moysiuk and Jeremy Kochrian.

“This year our Thurston County team is expanding their operations to serve the children of Grays Harbor County,” she said. “We know you want your donations to stay local and meet local needs. All monies collected will go to support the county they were collected from.”

Kochrian said her team has been reaching out to all the school districts in Grays Harbor County to identify children in need, stretching into the North River and Humptulips areas.

The pandemic is making this an especially challenging time to collect donations, as the need is “greater than ever,” she said. Rather than focusing on the traditional donations of new, unwrapped toys, the bulk of this year’s effort will involve collecting monetary donations online.

To give online, go to www.toysfortots.org and follow the prompts under the “Find Your Local Campaign” tab. When you click on Grays Harbor, you will be routed to Thurston County’s page, since the campaigns are combined this year.

“We are also working on another contactless donation option with an Amazon registry,” said Kochrian. “This should be active soon, and information will be posted on our website.”

The long-standing practice of dropping off toys at local businesses still could be an option, however, and the team is looking to Harbor businesses to host collection boxes.

“We are looking for local businesses to be drop sites,” said Kochrian. “If businesses wish to have a drop box to collect toys, they can request one on the website under the ‘Get Involved/Volunteer’ tab.

“Once local donation sites are established,” she said, “these businesses will be listed on the web page as donation sites.”

Gifts are for infants through age 16. Kochrian said most in demand are gifts for teens, who tend to be more difficult to shop for, but donations for all ages within the range are graciously accepted.

The Marine Corps Toys for Tots Foundation was established in 1947. It is a top-rated charity, with nearly all of the donations going directly to the mission of providing toys, books, and other gifts to less fortunate children. Less than 3% is spent on fundraising and overhead.