ROBERTSDALE, Alabama — Members of the Marine Corps League Detachment 1370 of Gulf Shores were on hand Wednesday, Dec. 15 at Robertsdale High School to receive nearly 2,000 toys for the Marine Corps annual Toys for Tots program.
While the numbers were down from past years (RHS collected 3,500 toys last year), Petty Officer Edward “Theo” Theodoro, Naval science instructor at RHS, said he thought the quality of gifts was better than last year.
“I think our students recognized that there is a greater need this year,” Theodoro said. “Families have been hit hard by the pandemic and Hurricane Sally and I believe these kids stepped up with bigger ticket items that families need.”
Detachment 1370 includes the southern part of Baldwin County, from U.S. 31 south to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, and from Magnolia Springs east to the Florida state line. This year the group has also encompassed Perdido Key, Florida. Jeanniene Heath, Toys for Tots assistant coordinator for South Baldwin County said Robertsdale High School remains the single largest contributing group in the area.
In his first year as coordinator for South Baldwin County, James F. Ribly Jr. said he is impressed with this year’s donations throughout the area.
“Donations have actually increased this year,” Ribly said. “I’m particularly impressed with groups like this where young men and women have stepped up and taken charge. It really shows that our future is in good hands.”
Coordinated by the Robertsdale High School Naval Junior ROTC, the drive is a coordinated effort among all the clubs at Robertsdale High School.
In total, RHS donated 1,850 toys to this year’s drive, along with 30 toys to fulfill Christmas wishes of Robertsdale High School special needs students. NJROTC combined the toy drive with a food drive, also collecting nearly 800 cans of food for the Eagles Landing Veterans Food Pantry in Mobile.
“I’m just super proud of these kids and the ROTC for once again coordinating our efforts,” said RHS Principal Joe Sharp. “This is always a community effort and it always feels good to give back to the community.”