Lowndesboro UMC Toy Drive, Soup Kitchen Benefits Lowndes County Children Over the Holidays
Posted 8:12 p.m. on Wednesday, November 16, 2022
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Lowndesboro United Methodist Church held its second annual Toys for Tots toy drive on Sunday, raising more than 200 toys for local children.
The event brought together 75 community members and featured a soup pot with 19 soups and all the fixings.
“We try to invite residents of Lowndesboro and the surrounding area,” said event coordinator Lora Ward. “Everyone comes out with tons of toys and lots of soups.”
The annual event is a cooperative, interfaith effort to partner with the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation in providing toys to children in Lowndes and Butler County.
The Lowndes and Butler County toys for toddlers is a non-profit charitable organization that accepts cash donations and unwrapped toys valued at $35 or less. Outreach Coordinator Michele Sousa worked as a coordinator in California for 17 years before coming to Alabama to begin operations in the Lowndes and Butler area in 2020.
All toys and donations collected for Toys for Tots remain in Lowndes and Butler counties. For Christmas 2021, the organization delivered nearly 10,000 toys to more than 2,000 local children and this year organizers plan to help 3,000 children have a Merry Christmas.
“What we collect goes to our children,” Sousa explained. “Everything that’s collected stays here, from every penny to every little bouncing ball.”
Area residents can approach the organization for assistance at Christmas time. Churches like Lowndesboro UMC distribute requests, which are then collected and forwarded to Sousa’s office. Sousa also partners with law enforcement, first responders and local utilities to uncover families who need help.
Sousa remembers helping a father last year whose wife died three days before Christmas. An anonymous community member called her to let her know. Thanks to Lowndes County donors, she was able to deliver toys to the man’s three young children.
“Anyone who knows a need can call me to make a recommendation,” Sousa said. “This man was so proud, not asking for help, but the smile on his face when the toys showed up on his doorstep said it all. Lowndes County has no If a situation makes your heart ache, you can be a reference.
Some years, Sousa receives more requests than donations, she noted. In these cases, the national Toys for Tots foundation sends more, so that all requests are met.
“Our children receive between three and five toys,” Sousa explained. “I don’t hold back toys. Last year we collected 10,000 and filled out all the applications.
The dollars raised are also spent in the area, Sousa noted, buying toys from local stores for local children.
Toy collections began on November 1 and will continue until December 20. Please visit the lowndes-butler-al.toysfortots.org for a list of collection locations, make an online donation or request assistance.