The 13th annual Toy Trooper, a toy donation drive for children in Saline County, will kick off this weekend with visits from Little Rock radio broadcasters.
The 103.7 The Buzz Show With No Name hosts Tommy Smith, David Bazzel, RJ Hawk and guests will broadcast live from the Bryant Walmart parking lot from 6 to 10 a.m. Friday to kick off the event. Ugly Ed Johnson of KHITS 96.5 also will broadcast live from the Bryant Walmart parking lot from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday.
Toy Trooper organizer James Ballew said volunteers, including the Saline County Kiwanis Club members and the Bryant Parks and Recreation staff, will be collecting "new unwrapped or gently used" toys or monetary donations through Sunday, Dec. 9, at the Bryant Walmart parking lot. He said there will be inflatable jumps/slides and games for children and refreshments for everyone who makes a donation.
"Cash donations can be great because a lot of times most people donate toys for the young children and the older kids get overlooked," Ballew said. "With 100 percent of the money donated, we'll go into Walmart and purchase toys, paying particularly close attention to any age groups left out."
Ballew said more details about the donation drive will be released later in the week.
"We mainly want people to stop by, make a donation and enjoy some free food and fun," he said. "Even if someone just gives us a little, the more people who do that can go a long way in helping children right here in our community. A lot of little things can help a lot of people, and all the toys we get will be given to children in Saline County."
Ballew said Toy Trooper partners with Churches Joint Council on Human Needs to set up the distribution process. Families wanting to find out about how to get on the distribution list should contact CJCOHN, which is open on Tuesdays and Fridays at 103 E. Elm St. in Benton.
"The toys we hand out touch so many lives. It can make a huge difference for a child for at least one day," Ballew said. "It can be a life-changing experience to go out on the distribution day. It will change your life; it changed mine years ago. There are just always more kids that need toys than we can take care of, so I hope people will come out, drop off new toys and we'll give them food and drinks in return."
He added, "My goal is to take care of every kid in our communities. That is what it is all about. I remember when I was a little boy, there wasn't a bigger day than Christmas. Toy Trooper is a top priority and a few gifts under the tree for a child that otherwise might not have any — it will mean a lot to them."
For more information about Toy Trooper or to make donations, call Ballew at 529-1700.