Pay it Forward

Toys for Tots gearing up; help needed 

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Jack Brennan

The holiday season is a time of joy and giving, and few initiatives embody this spirit better than the Toys for Tots campaign. Since its inception in 1947, Toys for Tots has been dedicated to ensuring every child experiences the magic of the holiday season, regardless of their family’s financial circumstances. This heartwarming program, run by the United States Marine Corps Reserve, has touched the lives of millions of children and families nationwide.

At its core, Toys for Tots aims to collect and distribute new, unwrapped toys to needy children. The campaign begins in October and runs through December, when toy donations from individuals, businesses, and organizations pour in. In Macon County, Smokey Mountain Toys for Tots works tirelessly to fulfill this Christmas miracle.

One of the most remarkable aspects of Toys for Tots is its local impact. Communities across the country come together to support their own, ensuring children in their neighborhoods have something special to unwrap on Christmas morning. This grassroots approach brings smiles to children’s faces and fosters a sense of unity and compassion among community members.

Coordinator Jack Brennan and Smoky Mountain Toys for Tots volunteers deliver a message of hope and caring to families and children in need in Western North Carolina.

The Toys for Tots campaign extends beyond providing toys; it delivers a message of hope and caring. It shows children that their communities care about them and are willing to help make their holidays brighter. It also teaches valuable lessons about the importance of giving and sharing. Last year, we reached over 300 Macon County families and more than 900 children, and we gave away in excess of 4,000 toys and 900 books!

Over the years, Toys for Tots has become a beloved holiday tradition, with countless volunteers and donors working tirelessly to spread joy to those less fortunate. This incredible initiative reminds us that the true spirit of the holidays lies in the kindness and generosity we show to others. As the holiday season approaches, please consider joining the Toys for Tots campaign and help make a child’s holiday season one to remember. Together, we can ensure that every child experiences the magic of Christmas.

Locally, Smokey Mountain Toys for Tots manages the Toys for Tots program in Macon County. Saturday, December 20th will be the last distribution day. Recently, we received a shipment of 100 distribution boxes for the 2023 campaign. Businesses can receive a distribution box – to hold donated items – as well as directional signs to help guide families to businesses. If any businesses already in possession of distribution boxes have toys to pick up, they can email me (see below) and someone will pick them up. 

Upcoming, volunteers will package up family gift bags to begin our first distribution date of November 11. Anyone who would like to volunteer time to help out, look at available dates and times on our volunteer booking pages. Click here to see the calendar. Or visit:

For more information on how you may contribute, either financially or by volunteering time, contact me at (828) 548-3668 or email me at [email protected]. If you have children, have an organization supporting children, and need assistance this year, please visit

Jack Brennan is the Toys for Tots coordinator.