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Toys for Tots, St. Petersburg, Florida, December 15

Toys for Tots, St. Petersburg, Florida, December 15 - Imagine a warehouse filled with countless tabletops of toys, patiently waiting to be wrapped and perfectly placed under a sparkling Christmas tree. And imagine military cadets ranging in age from adolescent to adult, impeccably attired in perfectly pressed uniforms, waiting patiently to purposefully roam a maze of cluttered tabletops while escorting parents in pursuit of the perfect holiday gift.

That was our first image of the fateful Toys for Tots event for which we all volunteered.

It was an unseasonably steamy Saturday afternoon in early December, and we all gathered in a warm and windowless warehouse in St. Petersburg to distribute toys to families who without a bit of help, would otherwise not be embracing Christmas this year. The DAILY DIMES® volunteer crew, decked out in lookalike attire and happy smiles, unanimously voted to participate in a To ys for Tots event in lieu of planning a traditional holiday celebration. Our enthusiastic staff gathered with a host of other helpers to pack, unpack, wrap, rewrap, and distribute holiday cheer rather than cash in on our annual extravagance of food, fun, and favors at a local watering hole or some other excessive venue.

Crew members were assigned to various toy tables which were distinguished by gift recipient age and gender, all of which were spilling over with desirable presents. Some team members were asked to sort and allocate toys, others to suggest various gift options to shoppers, or interpret Santa requests from one language to another, and still more to chaperone anxious attendees as they roamed our toy tables for at least one item on a wish list created for Santa.

As the day unfolded, the mass of toys diminished, but happily not the spirit of our staff. Thankfully, there was a suitable selection of toys to satisfy most Santa lists which helped us feel like our efforts on that hot and humid day were worthwhile. Observing the outpouring of appreciation from those who were so grateful for the Toys for Tots support was by far the most meaningful experience of the day, and the pinnacle of our holiday season!

DAILY DIMES® Associate, Amber Williamson was heartened by the endless display of giving and the continuous warmth that she felt with each gift recipient and stated; “I cannot describe the joy I feel in my heart. Sharing a wonderful experience with my colleagues and the community is the best present I could receive.” To conclude our emotionally exhausting day, we all gathered to pose for a group picture. And though we were all wilted and weary, smiles came easily for one and all knowing that our presence had ensured many presents under countless Christmas trees that would have otherwise looked bare on Christmas day!

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