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Toy Distribution Helps Fill Holiday Need
Donations from community residents and two 'toy drops' by the U.S. Marine Corps helped make the holidays brighter for needy area residents.

The annual Toys for Tots drive culminated with the distribution of toys on Monday morning, Dec. 22, just in time for Christmas.

Escalon Fire Department Administrative Assistant Donna Fourre served as coordinator this year and said close to 200 local children benefited.

"We got some large, nice things like E-Z Bake Ovens this year," she said. "We had roughly 196 kids from about 70 families."

Fourre estimated she had 20 helpers to organize the toys into appropriate age groups and fill the bags for the giveaway. Among them were Miss Escalon Mikala Hatfield and Little Miss Escalon Danielle Gallegos, along with several community volunteers that have helped out over the years. Done assembly-line style, volunteers take a slip of paper containing information for a family and then grab a bag for each child, loading it up with toys designed for each child's age.

"The biggest number was for the four- to seven-year-olds," Fourre explained of the need this year. "After that it was the 8- to 10-year-olds."

Gifts appropriate for all ages were sought, with the giveaway intended for local residents in need of some assistance to put gifts under the tree. They had to sign up through the fire department and provide some information, including ages and number of children needing gifts, then came back on Monday for the distribution day.

"Our volunteers came at 8 a.m.," Fourre said. "The distribution was from 10 a.m. to noon but we were done by about 11:30 a.m."

A few bags remained and were held for those that signed up for them, Fourre said.

Little Miss Escalon helped out, Fourre said, noting that she was especially good at handing out stuffed animals to those youngsters that attended the distribution with an adult, helping to make waiting in line a little more bearable.

"Miss Escalon and some of her court were here, plus community volunteers, and we always have helpers from the police department and fire department," Fourre added. "The Marine Corps also delivered toys on Friday, we had two deliveries from them and that helped fill the need, it was spread out between a lot more families this year."