Holiday toy drive seeks more bikes for tots in Valley
By William K. Alcorn
Marine Corps veteran Harry Dampf has become the gung-ho bicycle man for the local Marine Corps Reserve’s Toys for Tots program.
Working some 15 years as a Toys for Tots volunteer, primarily picking up toys, he was aware the program didn’t receive many bicycles. Last year, he set out to do something about it.
“What kid wouldn’t like a bike on Christmas morning,” reasoned Dampf, of Canfield, who served from 1960 to 1964 and is a member of Tri-State Detachment 494 of the Marine Corps League.
Starting in November 2011, he raised $1,000, enough money to buy 22 boxed bicycles through the Boardman Toys “R” Us. Dampf delivered the bikes to Banner Supply in Youngstown, where Toys for Tots gifts gathered by the Tri-State Detachment are warehoused until delivered to the 4th Landing Support Equipment Co. based at the Youngstown Air Reserve Station in Vienna.
The reserves sort the toys and deliver them to the organizations with whom individuals register to receive presents — the Salvation Army in Youngstown and Warren, the Niles Community Service Center, and Fish Samaritan House.
The 4th LSE operates Toys for Tots in Trumbull and Mahoning counties. Chief Warrant Officer 4 Emiliano DeLeon oversees the program, which is coordinated by Sgt. Timothy Taylor.
Toys for Tots aims to collect new, unwrapped toys in October, November and December and distribute them as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children in the community.
Encouraged by 2011’s results, Dampf is determined to raise more money for bicycles in this year’s drive. He said $915 was donated at a recent meeting of Public Employee Retirees Chapter 18, headed by John Fromel, including $200 by former state Sen. Harry Meshel and $75 by Ray Braidich, a former Marine. Another $305 was collected at an Austintown American Legion Post 301 meeting, he said.
Dampf, who is shooting for 100 bikes this year, said he’ll talk about Toys for Tots and his bicycle project to any group, and he welcomes donations from any group or individual. To contact him, call 330-518-0687.
To raise money for its Toys for Tots program, the Marine Corps’s 4th LSE is sponsoring its second annual Toys for Tots 5K Run/Cookout on Sunday at Imagination Station in Bazetta Township Park, 2035 state Route 305 at Warren-Meadville Road.
Registration is 8 to 9:30 a.m., and the race/walk begins at 10 a.m. Registration fee is $25. Other activities include a pull-up competition, a bounce house, music, raffles and food.
Toys may be donated at white boxes at numerous locations in Mahoning and Trumbull counties which will soon be posted on Toys for Tots.org. For local information and to donate money locally, go to Toys for Tots.org, search for Ohio, select Trumbull County, and click donate at the top of the page.
“Our goal is to bring the community together and fill every gift request,” Taylor said.