Contest to help boost Toys for Tots donations


POSTED: Friday, October 23, 2009

It's on.

Businesses in Honolulu's central business district can start now to battle for supremacy in a way that results in no casualties and makes Hawaii keiki of all ages happy, come Christmas.

The annual Toys for Tots Hawaii campaign, by the U.S. Marine Corps and Reserve, will stage the “;Tricycle Cup,”; from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 17 at Tamarind Park, to make it easier for area businesses to contribute.

The name might evoke an image of Hart-Schaffner-Marx-and-wingtip-shoes-clad CEOs pedaling trikes 'round a track with pistonesque knees flying every which way, but there will be no such test of anyone's mettle.

Rather, it is a collection competition in which the three businesses that donate the most toys will receive trophies at a Toys for Tots VIP reception on Nov. 19.

Toys for Tots donation sites will still be widespread this year, as the campaign officially starts Nov. 7, but the “;Tricycle Cup”; is the first local event of its kind, said Chuck Little, deputy director of public affairs for U.S. Marine Forces Pacific.

Last year's goal of 40,000 donated toys was reached in the eleventh hour with help from a large celebrity donation, said Capt. Luke Gaffney, officer-in-charge at the 4th Force Reconnaissance Company, which coordinates Toys for Tots in Hawaii.

This year the economy is likely to make it more difficult to give, which “;also means there's going to be more need,”; Gaffney said.

“;Taking that into account, this year we increased our goal ... to 45,000, to be able to meet all the need.”;

Toys for Tots officials receive intel about the need from the Salvation Army, its partner.

Needs are expressed by local nonprofits including shelters, churches and different organizations, and are verified and conveyed to the Toys for Tots program.

There is traditionally an abundance of donated new, unwrapped toys for babies, toddlers and younger children, but shortages for teens are common—as toys for the age group can be costly or challenging to find, Gaffney said. Clothing is not accepted by Toys for Tots.

Those too time-challenged to shop for a toy to give can donate online, via a secure Web connection at the link below.

“;Everything that's donated here in Hawaii stays here in Hawaii,”; said Gaffney.

Officials are still mulling what the dress code will be for volunteer and “;volun-told”; Marines that day, but “;we're definitely not going to have them all day in their dress blues—we'll have heat casualties,”; he said.

Each Marine collecting toys will wield a clipboard and ask which company is represented by the donation—and business names will be tallied up at the end of the day to determine the winners.

As a lunchtime mahalo, the U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific Band will perform holiday tunes at Tamarind Park from noon to 1 p.m.

On the Net:
» kaneohe-bay-hi.toysfortots.org
Facebook page:
» www.hsblinks.com/14n