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Toys for Tots extravaganza is today

Diane Heesacker of Poulsbo, of Tracyton BSA Troop 1506, was busy wrapping gifts Wednesday evening for the annual Toys for Tots party at the Kitsap Pavilion today. Behind Heesacker is Boy Scout Alex Eversole, 11. The unidentified girl at right and man in background were among about 60 community volunteers wrapping gifts which should total 2,000 for today’s event. - Photo by Kelly Everett
Diane Heesacker of Poulsbo, of Tracyton BSA Troop 1506, was busy wrapping gifts Wednesday evening for the annual Toys for Tots party at the Kitsap Pavilion today. Behind Heesacker is Boy Scout Alex Eversole, 11. The unidentified girl at right and man in background were among about 60 community volunteers wrapping gifts which should total 2,000 for today’s event.
— image credit: Photo by Kelly Everett

Santa’s a busy guy. He and his elves have so many gifts to make and wrap and deliver, that he now outsources much of his labor.

In our area, it’s the Toys for Tots program run by Marines Corps reservists and a host of volunteers.

Gift central today is a huge party at the Kitsap Pavilion. The event will be run by volunteers from the Marine Corps Reserves and Marine Corps League Kitsap Peninsula chapter who each contribute volunteer “honorary elves.”

They have been busy wrapping, sorting and labeling about 3,000 gifts for the expected 1,500 to 1,800 needy kids who will traipse through the Pavilion today, Saturday, Dec. 13, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

There were about 60 volunteers on Wednesday night wrapping gifts, labeling by sex and age, storing in open-topped boxes for easy retrieval, and bringing in gifts from one of the program’s major collection points at the entrance to Gottschalks at the Kitsap Mall.

Volunteers came from the Tracyton Boy Scout Troop 1506 and the Bremerton Church of the Nazarene.

“Other volunteers include kids who received gifts through our program years ago ... and are now back to help wrap presents,” said Robin Hallock, who served as a Marine sergeant and retired Army National Guard member. His son, Chris, 15, was also wrapping.

“I’ve been doing this (volunteering in one capacity or another) 24 years,” said the elder Hallock. “I’ve been ‘commandant’ in charge of this area’s Toys for Tots three years.

“We’re a little short of donations, so tell your readers we could still use some toys or cash or checks through today. We need toys for kids from newborn to 3, and from 11 to 13.”

Diane Heesacker of Poulsbo, a Troop 1506 mom, was there with her Scout son, Mitchell, 12, wrapping gifts.

“The largest part of the Boy Scout (mandate) is community service,” she said. “Toys for Tots is perfect for this.”

Luke Romas, 17, was volunteering on his own: “I just wanted to help the community.” He’s a Central Kitsap High School senior living in Silverdale.

Katie Pitchford, 12, was all business: “My brother’s in the Scouts,” she said. “For people who are less fortunate, this is a great idea.”

“‘Nose’ Ormsby, chaplain for all Boy Scout troops in Kitsap County and honorary Santa, is giving out gifts today.

“It’s a privilege to get to do this,” he said on Wednesday.

It’s always a balancing act between how many gifts are donated and how many needy kids show up.

“The Marines always need a few toys left over (to act as seed) for next year. We’ve never run out in the three years I’ve been in charge,” said Hallock crossing his fingers.

He said there is no need to come early to today’s party.

“Don’t start forming lines at 4 a.m.,” he added. “It’s too cold. We’ll not open until 9:30 a.m. We’ll have enough for all.”

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