United States Marine Corps Staff Sergeant Tim Kosky addressed an audience of corporate sponsors and volunteers Wednesday at the Toys-for-Tots area kick-off luncheon at the Terre Haute Salvation Army.
Kosky said he is confident that Toys-for-Tots' 2005 campaign will meet the need of area underprivileged children.
"We'll have enough where every child (in the area) that needs something will get it," he said. "Every (area) child will receive a toy."
Last year's Toys-for-Tots drive collected approximately 61,000 toys, which were distributed to some 6,500 children in the four-county area. Two eastern Illinois counties, Clark and Edgar, will be added to that list this year, Kosky said.
Toys-for-Tots also accepts monetary donations. Kosky said he personally ensures that money donated to the organization is directed back into the local economy.
"Just as all the toys collected will stay in these counties, every dollar collected is spent in these counties," he said. "Everything stays here."
Janet Bridgewater, a secretary at Second Methodist Church in Brazil, is in her fourth year as the Clay County Coordinator for Toys-for-Tots. In that time, she said, she has observed first-hand the need for such a program in the area.
"Our welfare rate is high," she said. "With the amount of people that are on welfare, there is a need."
Toys-R-Us, the national corporate sponsor of Toys-for-Tots, contributed thousands of dollars worth of toys last year, Kosky said. But Bridgewater was quick to point out that sponsorship at the local level is just as important. She listed a number of Brazil businesses that regularly contribute to the Toys-for-Tots effort in the community, including Advanced Auto Parts, the Dollar Tree, National Printing and Road Ranger.
Kosky said that while he hopes to generate record numbers with this year's campaign, the true importance of the program is measured on a child-by-child basis.
"We may not be able to help all children, but if we help one child, we've met our goal," he said. "That's one child who will wake up Christmas morning with a present under his tree."
Those who wish to donate to Toys-for-Tots can contact Janet Bridgewater at 448-2917 or Staff Sgt. Tim Kosky at (812)235-8636.