The Fredericksburg Rotary Club has been proud to sponsor the Toys for Tots program for families in Gillespie County for over twelve years. The Marines originally brought the program to the area.  They turned over the sponsorship to our local KNAF radio station, who turned over the sponsorship to our Rotary Club.  The program requires over 800 volunteer hours each year from about 60 Rotary Club members, their spouses, Interact members, and community volunteers.
Applications for children, ages newborn through sixteen, to receive toys are placed at several locations in the county including the Fredericksburg Visitor Information Center, Community Needs Council, Good Samaritan Center, KNAF radio station, and the Harper Library. The club places toy donation boxes in 18 area businesses. Rotarians also personally accept toy donations at our local Walmart on a weekend in early December.  Several local  organizations, clubs, and the Boy Scouts also collect toys.  The Fredericksburg Rotary Club’s Interact from Fredericksburg High School collects cash donations for the program through tins placed in area businesses.  We are also fortunate to receive donations from generous donors.  

Dana Green and Bob Lee have been chairpersons for this program for the past nine years. Prior chairperson was Mike Elvir.  Each year the program has distributed to 212 families; gifting over 1,000 toys to 818 children.  

As the applications are received, a spreadsheet is maintained to register the children’s names and ages.  All toys donated are labeled for the appropriate age group.  Toys are purchased to meet the needs of each age group if appropriate toys for an age group have not been received through donations.  Rotarians transport the toys to a local church on the Wednesday before delivery.  Rotarians organize the toys by the labeled age groups.  The next day Rotarian shoppers fill each family’s application by placing an appropriate toy for each child  in a large silver gift bag.  The Club sponsors a Wrap Party on Friday night.  Wrappers choose silver bags, remove the toys, gift wrap them, attach personalized gift tags, and return them to the silver bags.  The bags are brought to a finishing table where volunteers place stuffed animals, books, crayons, puzzles, and an HEB gift certificate for the ingredients for a turkey dinner compliments of the Fredericksburg Police Department in the bags. On Saturday volunteers  load their vehicles with gift bags labeled by area. The gift bags are delivered to Fredericksburg, Stonewall, Harper, and rural areas of the county.  

Each volunteer has truly been blessed by participating in the program.  It is a joyful experience knowing a family’s holiday has been made more special.  Our Rotary Club has received numerous thank you letters from recipients expressing their thanks.  One letter stands out above the rest.  A mother wrote  to express her appreciation for the program. Her second grade daughter’s letter to Santa was published in our local newspaper two days after Rotarians had delivered her only request: a pink and purple bike!  This young girl’s letter also said, “I want people to care for other families who are less fortunate.“  We are making every effort to fulfill all of her wishes,  We are proud to sponsor the Toys for Tots program.  The program definitely demonstrates our motto, “Service Above Self”.