Toys for Tots is just as it sounds. It's the reliable way to make sure that all children in the area have a Christmas cheer and a smile, no matter what the family's financial condition.
In the Verde Valley, the anchor of that program is Krys Vogler. Her husband Keith was in the U.S. Marine Corps and started the Verde Valley detachment of the Marine Corps Reserve.
Krys became the Adjunct Paymaster for the Verde Valley U.S. Marine Corps League and then became the coordinator for what has become a very generous face of the Marine Corps, nationally.
"We moved here in 2004 and started Toys for Tots in the Verde Valley the following year," Krys remembers.
The mission of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program is to collect new, unwrapped toys during the months of October, November and December each year, and to distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to needy children in the community in which the campaign is conducted: Camp Verde, Clarkdale, Cornville, Cottonwood, Jerome, Lake Montezuma, and Rimrock.
This past Christmas season, Krys and her co-workers gave 2100 Verde Valley children four toys and a book each.
In addition, 26,000 books came from the Marine Corps Literacy program. "we used Angel Flight and delivered some all over Northern Arizona and then added one book to each of the Verde Valley
She says there are a couple months during the summer that the program takes a break, but, otherwise, planning, preparation, organizing, gathering and giving is almost a year round job.
She says it is a very gratifying project. "One letter we got from a father, thanking us and saying that without help his family would not have had a Christmas, since he was in chemotherapy."
Krys is the coordinator, but she also credits four other women who are also the worker bees that make the organization tick. They are Aimee Hoke, Debbie Seegal, Jan Graham, Lois Hook and Gwen Wait.
"Schools and charitable organizations know the names of children who need our help." Bags are made based on age and gender.
"We go to business and ask if we locate a collection container there."
The collection bins don't fill the entire need, so a Golf tournament was launched at Verde Santa Fe in September to raise additional funds.
The program also organizes and arts and crafts show in Camp Verde as well.
Then, there are special donations.
Then the girls go on a buying expedition to purchase large items like bicycles that can be distributed in a drawing at the Christmas party at Cliff Castle Casino.
The Casino buys additional items to give away to tribal children at a separate party.
The organization also filled a truck load of can set up collection containers for new unwrapped toys. The organization also works with Adopt a Family and the Verde Valley Sanctuary to make sure all needs are met.