Toys for Tots of Northeast Missouri will provide toys for 1,600 children this holiday season; Thursday, Dec. 17 is Distribution Day in Hannibal at the Admiral Coontz Recreation Center.

About 650 low-income families qualified for Toys for Tots assistance in Marion, Ralls, Pike Shelby, Monroe and Lewis Counties.  During the distribution, Salvation Army will provide more than 800 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 5 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 volunteers boxed up packages for each family and will distribute them through a drive-through system at the Recreation Center, as an abundance of caution due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Nicholas said, “It’s been a challenging year because of COVID.  We have had to modify every aspect of our campaign.  We realize that some of what we are doing is different than we have done it in the past.  But given the circumstances, we have made the best choices to keep our volunteers safe and still provide Christmas gifts.”

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 along the route during the Hannibal Jaycees Christmas parade Dec. 5.