Waurika News Democrat

Local News

December 23, 2012

Just ‘toying’ around

Revived program makes gifts available to hundreds of JeffCo youth

WAURIKA — A partnership with Ryan American Legion Post 183 and the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program ensured hundreds of children in Jefferson County had surprises under the tree on Christmas Day.

For many years, the Toys for Tots program in the county was organized by the Waurika Volunteer Fire Department. But last year, the Waurika firefighters gave up their affiliation with Toys for Tots and began their own program to provide toys for children from underprivileged families.

There was no Toys for Tots program in 2011, but this year, Melissa Bardin picked up the slack and the national program was regenerated, thanks in part to the Ryan Legion Post.

“Ryan Legion Commander Carols Castillo was willing to donate the Legion building for toy storage and as a distribution site,” Bardin said.

Bardin, a retired Marine, also created partnerships with other agencies in the county, which led to 91 families and 484 children received new toys through Toys for Tots. In addition, among the other organizations receiving help were: Waurika Volunteer Fire Department, Ryan Volunteer Fire Department, Department of Human Services Foster Children program, Ryan pre-kindergarten and Bears 4 Law Enforcement

“We serviced over 120 kids through agencies like the Department of Human Services, Head Start and Angel Tree,” Bardin said. “Ringling Fire Department stepped up and helped us tremendously, and the Ryan Legion was just great to work with.”

The Angel Tree program produced 42 families served in Ringling and over 30 families in both Ryan and Terral. “We also had churches throughout the county that donated,” Bardin noted.

Ringling and Ryan FCCLA both conducted toy drives, while donations were also received from Waurika A/G, Terral Baptist Church, Ryan Methodist Church, Kiowa Casino, the City of Ringling, Bowie Toys for Tots, Ft. Sill U.S. Marine Corps detachment, Dollar General and Family Dollar.

The project turned into a family affair for the Bardins, as husband Nathan and oldest son Zachary were involved in a variety of ways, and the youngest Bardins, Charles and Elizabeth, helped sort and test toys.

“I was very pleased with how we did and am grateful to be able to help,” Bardin added. “We got a lot of help from Duston Thorne, Dana Dodson, Angie Smith, Beverly Duke and Megan Duke. Also, Rash and Levita Barrett of Ryan made a sizable monetary donation.

“Thanks to everybody who assisted and helped make Christmas something special for so many kids in the county.”

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