Toys for Tots of Northeast Missouri will provide toys for 1,350 children this holiday season; Friday, Dec. 20 is Distribution Day in Hannibal at the Admiral Coontz Recreation Center. Distribution will continue Saturday if necessary.

About 500 low-income families qualified for Toys for Tots assistance in Marion, Ralls, Pike and Lewis Counties.  During the distribution, Salvation Army will provide 850 food baskets.

Managerial support for Toys for Tots locally is provided by Douglass Community Services and Hannibal Parks & Recreation.

The mission of the U. S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program is to collect new, unwrapped toys and distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children in the community.

Each child will receive three toys, along with stocking stuffers and books.

Stacey  Nicholas is director of Community Outreach Initiatives at Douglass Community Services and co-coordinator of Toys for Tots with Hannibal Parks & Recreation assistant director Aron Lee.

Nicholas said, “Nothing is more affirming than a child who believes in the miracle of Christmas. We are so very  thankful for the community for stepping up and donating all the toys that make Christmas special for children in the area.”

The local Toys for Tots drive had the help of Americorps Corporation for National and Community Services workers for nine weeks, organizing toy drives and keeping inventory of toys.

There were coin cans and donation boxes in Bowling Green, Canton, Center, Eolia, Ewing, Hannibal, LaGrange, Lewistown, Louisiana, Monroe City, New London, Palmyra, Perry, Shelbina and West Quincy.

In addition, toys were collected from many toy drives among clubs and businesses; and along the route during the Disney Winter Wonderland Parade Dec. 7.