The annual Toys for Tots distribution in Lebanon County is set for Thursday, Dec. 16, through Saturday, Dec. 18.
This year, the distribution center will be the previous New Penn Trucking warehouse, at 625 S. 5th St., Lebanon. On distribution days, the warehouse will open at 6 a.m. and close at 6 p.m.
John Gingrich has been involved with the county’s Toys for Tots program for 40 years — as long as the program has been in Lebanon County — and he has served as the coordinator for 30 years.
“We’ve grown and grown over the years,” he said of the program. “We serve 900 families in the county.”
The Toys for Tots application process kicks off on Oct. 1 each year, when applications open on the website for families to fill out and submit for approval. The application process runs through the end of October.
On Nov. 1, collection boxes are placed at over 250 locations in the community until Dec. 10. From Dec. 10 through 16, volunteers bring boxes back to the distribution site, where toys are sorted, separated, and bagged.
The age groups are 0-1, 2-3, 4-6, 7-9, 9-12, and 13-15 years old, according to Gingrich. Families that applied and were approved should come to the warehouse on their assigned date at their assigned time to pick up the gifts.
“Parents can go through the boxes and pick out a bag for their child,” Gingrich said. “We put three gifts in each bag and try to mix it up, so that each bag has a small gift, a medium gift, and a large gift.”
“It takes lots of effort to pull this thing off,” he added. “We’re only as good as the community allows us to be. ”
According to the website, 38,929 toys were distributed and 6,740 children were supported last year. Gingrich does not yet have an estimate of how many donations were collected this year, but he expressed appreciation for the generosity of the community.
“The community is what makes this program so strong,” he said.
All ZIP codes in Lebanon County are eligible to apply to be recipients of toys next year.
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