By Sarah Plummer
Although many donations of toys, time and money to Mac’s Toy Fund each year are small, they make a big difference in the lives and hearts of needy children across Raleigh County.
Now in its 82nd year, Mac’s Toy Fund serves more than 4,000 children through age 12 and is the largest independent toy distribution charity in Raleigh County.
“For years we had an anonymous donation of pennies in a peanut jar. A rugged-looking man in a flannel shirt would bring it in and set it at the classified ad desk. Every donation, from a few pennies to $1,000, helps us meet our yearly goal of $25,000,” said Mac’s Toy Fund President Dawn Dayton.
And it is small donations — an outgrown bike or a discarded toy — that allow little girls to pick out their own doll refurbished by students at the Greater Beckley Christian School and women from the United Methodist Temple or boys and girls alike to get a great bike newly outfitted by the Boy Scout Troop 103 each year, she said.
The fund began humbly in 1930 by Ted “Mac” McDowell, editor of the Beckley Post-Herald, one of the two papers that merged years later to become The Register-Herald, Dayton said.
At the beginning of the Great Depression, McDowell knew many Raleigh County parents could not afford a full Christmas for their children. He began the long-running project and “simply put an appeal in the paper asking to help the kids, and Mac’s Toy Fund has been operating continuously since then,” she said.
Though small in its early years, it has grown substantially and is run entirely on volunteer work. All monetary donations go directly into distribution by purchasing fruit, new toys wholesale, parts for refurbished bikes, wood for toy construction at the Federal Correctional Institution — Beckley and stamps for the invitations which are selected and sent by the Department of Health and Human Services.
“Every year our goal is to raise $25,000, and every year the people in southern West Virginia and beyond help us meet that goal, even in the tough economic climate of the past few years. We are very appreciative and very blessed,” she said.
Some people who give to the fund each year have lived in Raleigh County and moved away or are people who were served as children. Many of those who serve the fund recall a time when Mac’s Toy Fund saved their Christmas after a parent lost a job or their family fell upon hard times.
Each year, familiar names of those who have been touched by Mac’s Toy Fund or whose dedication has touched those who work with the fund are listed among donors in The Register-Herald.
Dayton noted one Maryland couple who lost a child send a monetary donation in memory of “Baby Victoria” each year.
“Mr. McDowell would be proud that his name is still associated with this charity and that it is still chugging along, doing what he wanted it to — make children happy.”
Mac’s Toy Fund is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity and all monetary gifts are tax-deductible.
To make a monetary donation to Mac’s Toy Fund, mail checks to Mac’s Toy Fund, P.O. Box 2398, Beckley, WV 25802. Used toys and dolls should be dropped off at BJW Printing and Office Supplies, 3100 Robert C. Byrd Drive, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Used bikes can be dropped off behind the right side of the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center on North Eisenhower Drive or at Beckley Fire Station No. 3, also on North Eisenhower. New or gently used coats can be dropped off at Family Coin Laundry on Robert C. Byrd Drive.
This year’s Mac’s Toy Fund Distribution Party is scheduled for Dec. 15.
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Following are the first donations to Mac’s Toy Fund for the 2012 season:
Ned R Ragland Jr. and Judith K. Ragland of Daniels, in memory of parents, Ned H. and Pauline Ragland and Clarence and Sarah Kesler, $200.
Jan-Care Ambulance Inc., Beckley, $546.90
Dr. George T. Arnold of Lancaster, S.C., in memory of wife, Connie Kish Arnold; her parents, Alexander Thomas Kish and Eve Quesenberry Kish; and his parents, George T. Arnold and Chris Nunn Arnold, $100.
Total to date: $846.90
Send donations to:
Mac’s Toy Fund
P.O. Box 2398
Beckley, WV 25802