In the wake of the unprecedented devastation by Hurricane Katrina, hams around the country are being asked, "Can we do it again?" A second Toy Drive!
ARRL Delta Division Vice Director Henry Leggette, WD4Q (left), and volunteer coordinator Joe Lowenthal, WA4OVO, inventory some of the donated toys.
Country music star Patty Loveless, KD4WUJ, is the Holiday Toy Drive's national chairperson.
Lowenthal says donors have been sending in a wide variety of toys, from board games and books to dolls and sporting goods. [W4OQG Photo]
Lowenthal says stuffed animals make up approximately half of the toys donated to date. Toys have arrived from 31 states and the US Virgin Islands. "Let's get toys from all 50 states so the entire country is represented," he says. [W4OQG Photo]
NEWINGTON, CT, Dec 6, 2005--In less than two weeks, trucks carrying gifts donated to the ARRL/The Salvation Army 2005 Holiday Toy Drive will head south from the Memphis, Tennessee, warehouse that's been the drive's collection point. As of this week, generous radio amateurs and others across the US have contributed more than 3000 toys to help brighten the holiday season for youngsters displaced or left homeless in the wake of this year's devastating Gulf Coast hurricanes. More donations continue to arrive as the deadline rapidly approaches.
"We received 99 toys--12 small boxes--December 5, so we are over 3000," said warehouse volunteer coordinator Joe Lowenthal, WA4OVO. "The 3000 toys have come from 31 states and the Virgin Islands." ARRL Delta Division Vice Director Henry Leggette, WD4Q, obtained use of the warehouse, helped to organize the crew of ham radio volunteers and has been working with them throughout the drive.
The ARRL has partnered with The Salvation Army for this year's campaign, and country music artist Patty Loveless, KD4WUJ, is the drive's national chairperson. MFJ President Martin Jue, K5FLU, graciously donated the use of his firm's truck to help provide the transportation. MFJ is headquartered in Starkville, Mississippi.
ARRL Media and Public Relations Manager Allen Pitts, W1AGP, reports
that League members have given more than $4000. The money will be used
to purchase even more toys, especially for older youngsters, and
to the Gulf Coast. Impressed by an electronics experimenter's kit that
radio amateur had contributed, Pitts used a portion of the cash
donations to purchase
150 more kits. "The kits not only are appropriate for older children,
but they may
well spark a greater interest in electronics," he remarked.
Supplementing the donations from ARRL members, the Memphis Wal-Mart has given the Mid-South Amateur Radio Association (MARA) $1000 to be split between the kids on the Gulf Coast and youngsters from the Gulf Coast at St Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis.
When the toy-laden trucks--there could be as many as three--head south December 15, a celebration will mark the occasion. Expected to be on hand are Loveless and her husband and manager Emory Gordy, W4WRO; Shelby County (Tennessee) Mayor A C Wharton Jr, representatives from the offices of US Rep Harold Ford and US Sen Lamar Alexander; regional leaders of The Salvation Army and ARRL representatives, including Leggette, Pitts and ARRL Alabama Section Manager Greg Sarratt, W4OZK. The Salvation Army's Gulf Area headquarters in Jackson, Mississippi, will serve as the distribution center.
Radio amateurs are invited to send new unwrapped toys for boys and girls aged 1 to 14 to: ARRL Toy Drive/The Salvation Army, 1775 Moriah Woods Blvd--Suite 12, Memphis, TN 38117-7125. Include a QSL card or a card bearing your call sign.
ARRL invites its members to send checks if they prefer,
made out to "ARRL Toy Drive." Send these donations to: ARRL Toy Drive,
225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111.
Lowenthal says toys have been arriving via a number of carriers, but
he recommends FedEx, UPS or DHL for the most expeditious delivery,
although shipments have come via the US Postal Service as well.