story: theresa campbell
Marines devoted to Toys for Tots
More than 50,000 toys were given out last year to needy families in Lake and Sumter County, and the local Toys for Tots coordinator predicts the numbers will be higher this Christmas.
“We’ll probably do more because we are going further down into Bushnell, Webster, and Coleman; we didn’t have anybody to help us out there before, and now we do,” says Villages resident Jack Maiz, the local Toys for Tots campaign coordinator.
“We will help as many as we can as long as we have toys,” he says.
Toys for Tots has been a function of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves since 1947 with a mission of helping less fortunate children experience the joy of Christmas.
December 7 is the last day residents can take new, unwrapped toys to one of approximately 250 local Toys for Tots drop-off sites. From there, the toys are taken to a Leesburg warehouse on West Main to be processed and stored until they are distributed to families Dec. 14-17.
A crew of dedicated volunteers—many like Jack who served in the U.S. Marines—devote hours processing the toys in preparation for distribution.
“We collect the toys, sort them, and then we put them out by age, and it’s really something to see,” he says. “The majority of the people who work at the warehouse are in the Marine Corps League and this has been a tradition.”
He proudly says Toys for Tots is listed among the top charities in America. “And 97 cents of every $1 we receive goes toward purchasing toys, so that is a very honorable thing.”
Residents can make cash donations by making checks payable to the Toys for Tots Foundation and sending them to Jack Maiz, 1516 Rosedale Way, The Villages, FL 32162.
“A lot of times the cash donations we get go a lot further because when we buy the toys we are tax-exempt and we don’t have to pay the sales tax,” he says. Jack says this year Toys for Tots could use more items for older children.
“Every year we seem to come up short for the older children. We get lots of stuff for the younger children, but the ages 10-12 are very much needed,” he says, and among groups that have been generous donors of Toys for Tots are woodworkers in The Villages who often donate handmade wooden toys.
Toys For Tots Donation Sites
Purcell Chapel, 114 W. Noble Ave.
Brewer Funeral Home, 1018 West Ave.
Durant Real Estate, 1150 Anderson St.
Emeritus at Oak Park, 650 Minnehaha Ave.
Paramount Urgent Care, 628 Cagan View
Z Max Radio Studio 40, 1730 E Hwy. 50
Heart of Florida, 17301 Pagonia Rd. Ford of Clermont, 1101 E. Hwy. 50
Dollar General, 403 Plaza Drive
Lake Ridge Village Publix, 1950 N. SR 19
Veterans Barber Shop, 1701 N. SR 19
Walgreen’s, 2005 N. SR 19
Vann Gannaway Chevrolet, 2200 E. Burleigh Blvd.
Monster Self Storage, 19400 SR 44 Winn Dixie, 1955 SR 19
The VR Group, 2468 U.S. Hwy. 441 Ste., 104
Bill Bryan Chrysler Jeep Dodge, 3401 U.S. Hwy. 27/441
Dollar General, U.S Hwy. 27/441
Munn’s Heating and Air Conditioning, 2135 U.S. Hwy. 27/441
Brewer Funeral Homes, 132 E.
Magnolia Dollar Tree Store, 14627 CR 545A
Beyers Funeral Home, 134 N. U.S. Hwy. 27/441
Golf Cart Connection, 532N. Hwy. 27/441
Pier 1 Imports, Rolling Acres Shopping Center
Village Golf Liquidators, CR 466 at Santa Fe Crossing
Village Pack ‘n Ship, La Plaza Grande
Berry Berry Bears Teddy, ViaPort Mall
Beyers Funeral Home, 1123 W. Main St.
Citizens First Bank on U.S. Hwy. 27/441
Digital Hearing Systems, 4120 Corley Island Rd.
Dollar General, U.S. Hwy. 27/441 Edward Jones Financial, 10135 U.S. Hwy. 441
Holiday Marina and Via Port Mall
Plaza Lincoln Mercury, 8925 U.S Hwy. 441
Prestige Ford, 11701 U.S. Hwy. 441
Strive Physical Therapy Center, 1708 Citrus Blvd.
Vine Ripe Market, 107 S. 14th St.
Heat Tanning, 17195 U.S. Hwy. 441
Southern Technical College, 2799 W. Old U.S. Hwy. 441
Oxford Methodist Church CR 466 and U.S. Hwy. 301
Dollar General, SR 46.
Casa Mia Café, 505 W. Main St.
Lake County Farm Bureau Insurance, 30241 SR 19
Arby’s, CR 466
Bank of America, 901 N. U.S. Hwy. and Rolling Acres Rd.
Medicine Chest, CR 466 Best Floor, CR 466 at Santa Fe Crossing
Better Life Chiropractic Wellness, 979 Del Mar
Buena Vista Dental at Laurel Manor Cal’s Barber Shop locations at Palm Plaza, Colony Plaza, Sumter Landing, Spanish Springs, and The Villages’ historic side
Carolina Dentures, 8640 CR 466
Central Florida Nursery and Landscape, 305 CR 466
Central Florida Therapy Associates, 8686 E. CR 466
Cici’s Pizza, Colony Plaza All Citizens First Bank locations Citizens First Bank Operations Center Cody’s Steakhouse at Sumter Landing
Color Me Hair, CR 466 near Bonefish
Digital Hearing Systems, Colony Cottage at CR 466A
Dr. Camogliano Internal Medicine, 1400 U.S. Hwy. 441 N., Bldg. 900, Ste. 902
Edible Arrangements, Palm Ridge Plaza, Ste. 304
Fiesta Bowl, 890 Avenida Circle Hair and Nails, CR 466
Hair Dresser, CR 466
Johnny Rockets, Lake Sumter Landing
Kitchen and Bath Studios, 8590-A E. CR 466
Lake Center for Rehab, 910 Old Camp Rd., Building 100 at Lake Sumter Landing
Lanier Fruit Stand, CR 466
Laurel Manor Recreation Center
Margarita Republic, Spanish Springs
Paradise Recreation Center Paramount Urgent Center, CR 466 at Santa Fe Crossing
Planet Five Development Center, CR 466 at Santa Fe Crossing
Publix locations at Colony Plaza, Mulberry Grove, Wedgewood Lane, Spanish Springs La Plaza Grande and Spanish Plains
Red Lobster, 3830 Wedgewood Lane
Red Sauce at Lake Sumter Landing
Savannah Recreation Center Sea Breeze Recreation Center
Spanish Springs Lanes Pro Shop, 997 Alverez Ave.
Streetrod Productions, CR 101
TGI Fridays at Sumter Landing
The Villages High School, CR 466
Sumter Landing Victoria Hair Co., 8600 E. CR 466
Village Pack ’N Ship, locations at Colony Plaza and Southern Trace Villages Hospital Wal-Mart, CR 466
Waterfront Inn at Sumter Landing
Winn Dixie at La Plaza Grande
Beyers Funeral Home, 279 S. Central
Dollar General, 751 S. Central
Olde Mill Stream RV Park, 1000 N. Central
Umatilla City Hall, 1 S. Central
Umatilla Drug Store, 901 N. Central Ave.
Umatilla Optical, 570 Hatfield Drive
Umatilla Police Department, 251 N. Central
Umatilla Post Office, 315 N. Central.
City Hall, Dept. of Children and Families, SR 44, next to Russell Stover Candy
George Nahas Chevrolet, 4135 SR 44
Dollar General, U.S. Hwy. 44
Pepper Tree Apartments
SECO Sumter Electric, SR 301 Waste Management, CR 462 and SR 301
Wildwood Middle and High School
Salvation Army Angel Tree
“Doing the Most Good” is the Salvation Army’s motto, and they live it each day and during the Christmas holiday season with their Angel Trees, which allows residents to get in the spirit of the season by providing holiday gifts for children and senior citizens.
Water Oaks Community in Lady Lake, Royal Harbor in Leesburg, American Legion 129, Mount Dora City Hall, Morrison United Methodist Church, Via Port Mall, Pearl Cavallaro, and Fore Front in Clermont are among several locations that have agreed to have trees covered with Salvation Army “angel tags.”
Each tag includes the angel’s first name, age, gender, sizes, and the kind of gifts the person would like.
An angel tree is also displayed at the Salvation Army’s new location at 2605 South St., Leesburg, where visitors are invited to stop by and tour the new building.
Donors may take one or more tags, purchase new gifts and return them to the tree where the angel tag was selected. Among popular gifts are clothing, shoes, toys, and board games. “What I think are really great gifts are educational gifts that are fun, but also help to promote stimulation for kids,” says Lt. William “Will” Conley, corps officer for the Leesburg corps.
His wife, Lt. Veronica Conley, noted baby items and infant toys are always in demand, and she says since teenagers can be difficult to purchase gifts for, the Salvation Army found it’s easier to give teens gift cards instead.
“One thing that is unique about Leesburg is that we actually do senior angel adoptions,” she says, “which I’ve never seen any other Salvation Army do.”