Zachary High School, its satellite campus at Zachary Career and Technical Center and the U.S. Marine Corps have partnered for the Toys for Tots campaign and are encouraging residents, families, students and businesses to participate.
The Toys for Tots mission is to collect new, unwrapped toys for children in need each holiday season, a news release said. In Zachary, toys will be collected through Dec. 15 at designated locations throughout the community.
The local effort was started at ZCTC last year thanks to teacher Jennifer Norwood.
“ZCTC is a small campus, so we didn’t have as great of an impact as I had hoped for,” Norwood said. “This year, we wanted to make more of a difference, so I asked Principal Joe LeBlanc at Zachary High if we could expand the toy drive to the main campus, and he agreed.”
Norwood enlisted several teacher volunteers — Melanie Anderson, Elizabeth Basile, Kaitlyn Courville, Heather Gautreaux, Nicole Harvey, Brian Heikes, Jen Masterson, Chloe McCleary, Ginna Paredes and Randall Von Rosenberg — who agreed to campaign throughout the community.
At their first planning meeting, the teachers decided to make the effort a community one. Soon, senior students were on board, making the drive their community service project.
“Now, the seniors are pushing the campaign and encouraging underclassmen to participate, while the teachers have urged businesses to get involved.”
Drama students collected toys at their recent production of “The Velveteen Rabbit,” and National Honor Society students will accept new, unwrapped toys from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Dec. 11 at the annual Christmas in the Village celebration.
Though the toy drive is being conducted in Zachary, children in need throughout the greater Baton Rouge area will benefit.
On Dec. 16, a group of Marines will pick up and distribute the toys as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children throughout East Baton Rouge Parish.
“By donating a new toy at Christmas, we’re delivering a message of hope to less fortunate children that we hope will inspire them to become responsible, productive and patriotic citizens,” Norwood said. “We want as many children as possible throughout our parish to experience the joy and spirit of Christmas.”
Norwood said if anyone would like to make a monetary donation, they can visit toysfortots.org.
Collection sites include Zachary High, City Hall, CrossFit Zachary, LeBlanc’s Food Store and Molly Myers Dance Studio.