Toys for Tots faces challenges for 2020

Pictured, from left, are Marine Toys for Tots Coordinator LaRue Hardinger, Fort Payne Mayor Larry Chesser and Co-Coordinator Landon Fant. They also presented a plaque of appreciation to the Fort Payne City Council. 

The Marine Toys for Tots of DeKalb County honored Fort Payne Mayor Larry Chesser and city council members with appreciation plaques for their continuing support since 2013. Fort Payne has provided space for volunteers to store, sort and bag toys for donating to local families so no child has to experience Christmas without a new toy.

During those years, volunteers with the Northeast Alabama Marine Corps League,Detachment 1404, have distributed 33,857 new toys to 6,173 children.

Coordinator LaRue Hardinger said that despite three weather-related fundraiser cancellations, 2019 was the most successful campaign yet for the group, with 427 families throughout DeKalb County served and 7,939 Christmas toys going to 1,160 children in December. In fact, the local campaign was named the top one in the Southeast region, covering seven states.

Hardinger told the mayor and council they are part of that success. She, along with co-coordinator Landon Fant and Detachment 1404 Commandant Charles Martin, originally planned to make the presentation to the council in March, but COVID-19 delayed this, as the pandemic has disrupted so many schedules.

In fact, because of the coronavirus and the resulting economic fallout, this year presents many unprecedented challenges to raising funds and safely distributing toys. Hardinger expects more families are experiencing financial struggles and will need Toys for Tots this Christmas.

Donations and fundraiser ideas are welcome year-round. Checks should be made out to “Toys for Tots” and mailed to Toys for Tots coordinator, PO Box 681516, Fort Payne, AL 35968. Contact Hardinger at or at for more information.

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