Greene Turtle staff raises $6,000 for Toys For Tots

Christmas spirit among The Greene Turtle staff is so big Santa’s reindeer couldn’t pull it.

For the eighth year, about 14 bartenders and wait staff at the Salisbury restaurant donated their tips and raised $6,000 to buy puzzles, dolls, art supplies and other gifts for Toys for Tots.

Bartender Corlie Brice started the tradition after noticing a nearly empty drop-off box at a spa and hot tub store next to the restaurant. Only two toys were inside.

“I walked in there and saw the Toys for Tots sign and decided I would take all my money that night and go buy toys. I was telling the guy I was working with that night and he said he was going to do the same thing,” Brice said.

When customers heard about the plan, they tipped a little more generously.

“It kind of grew, and the next day we went shopping,” said Brice, calling the opportunity to buy toys “awesome.”

“It’s absolutely my biggest part of Christmas. When we started we were like 20 years old and we didn’t have kids.  You’re too old to be a kid, but you’re too young to have kids, so it’s a lot of fun,” she said.

Now, staff at 25 Greene Turtle restaurants in Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, New York and New Jersey donate tips for toy.

“Toys for Tots  gives kids a chance to see adults in a positive light and to think in a good way about the future,” said Ed Hearthway, local coordinator for the three lower Shore counties, as well as Sussex and the Eastern Shore of Virginia.

“Some children get hope for the future when they know other people are helping them. Down the road, I think, some kids we help today turn around tomorrow and are better citizens for that, said Hearthway, who’s one of about 760 coordinators nationwide.

Locally, there are 125 locations to donate new, unwrapped toys, although guns, rifles and bows and arrows are not accepted.

They are given to agencies such as the Salvation Army, churches and veterans’ organizations, where they are sorted and delivered to needy children.

Last year, more than 10,000 were donated to about 4,700 youth up to 12 years old. Especially popular this year are gifts with a theme from the movie Frozen and Ninja Turtles. Also suitable are sports equipment, games and dolls.

Collections from drop-off points began Dec. 17, but it isn’t too late to donate, because additional toys can be distributed next year. To donate, call Hearthway at 410 430 6473.

Toys for Tots is in its 67th year, Hearthway said, explaining it was started in 1947 by a U.S. Marine sergeant named Hendrix. After his discharge in California, he went to work for Disney studios. His wife encouraged him to take care of less fortunate children in the Los Angeles area. The second year, Walt Disney designed the train logo still used by Toys for Tots.

Now, it’s operated by the Toys for Tots Foundation, based near Quantico, Va.

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