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Marines collect gifts for needy children

December 14, 2001|By MARIO RENTERÍA, Staff Writer

BRAWLEY — Pioneers Memorial Hospital has joined forces with the Toys for Tots program of the U.S. Marine Corps and United Way of Imperial County to acquire more toys for underprivileged children of the Imperial Valley.

Pioneers has had its own toy drive for about 15 years, initiated by employee Lupe Amarillas. Amarillas started the drive in her home and eventually took it to the hospital.

Pioneers Patient Relations Specialist Clyde Carson said the hospital usually collects 200 to 400 toys every year.

"It's a win-win situation," Carson said of the partnership with Toys for Tots.

Laurie Nilson, executive director of United Way of Imperial County, said Toys for Tots is "really catching on" in the Valley.

She said the drive has collection bins at Vons in Brawley, PMH, Wal-Mart in El Centro and Calexico, Sears in El Centro, City Hall in El Centro and at the United Way office in El Centro.

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Bins will be at the collection points until Dec. 19.

She said this is the third year Toy for Tots has been in the Valley and it has been growing each year.

Gunnery Sgt. Kenneth Cameron of the Yuma Marine Corps Air Station said, "The community support is outstanding. The barrels are constantly overflowing with toys."

He added the Toys for Tots program was founded in 1947.

Nilson said the toys collected will be distributed to the Niland Family Resource Center, Boys and Girls Club of Brawley, The Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, House of Hope shelter, WomanHaven shelter and Neighborhood House in Calexico.

Those agencies will distribute the toys to families they know are in need.

Carson encouraged any families that feel they qualify for the program to sign up with one of the aforementioned agencies.

>> Staff Writer Mario Rentería can be reached at 337-3435.

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