Saipan Young Professionals, which works with the U.S. Marine Corps in Guam to implement the Toys for Tots program in the CNMI, has included teenagers among its recipients and not just children under the age of 12.
SYP co-chair Shane Villanueva told Saipan Tribune there is a misconception that the program is only for children and toddlers. “These goes from 1-day-old all the way to 18. So, we’re also looking for shirts, clothing items, headphones, and other stuff that are for young adults.”
“We’re looking at our goal of collecting up to 3,000 toys and other items. We’re working with the Marine Corps and [the Federal Emergency Management Agency] to see if they can supplement some of these items.”
He added that they are hoping the program would sustain the holiday spirit despite the destructive force of Super Typhoon Yutu last October. “Our major thing right now is to get these unwrapped gifts delivered [as soon as possible],” said Villanueva. “We’re trying to do as much as we can to keep the Christmas spirit alive.”
Villanueva said they will be accepting new and undraped toys and other items up to Dec. 14. Donated gifts can be dropped at 360 Revolving Restaurant, AON Insurance, Bank of Guam (Chalan Piao), Capricciosa, Fiesta Resort & Spa Saipan, Great Harvest Bread Co., Hyatt Regency Saipan, Joeten Shopping Center (Garapan and Susupe), Kanoa Resort Saipan, Latte Built Gym, Lollipops Inc., Marianas Visitors Authority, Shall Gas Station (Susupe), Tony Roma’s, and the Triple J Truckload Store.
SYP works with agencies like the Division of Youth Services and Karidat Social Services to distribute the toys. “[DYS and Karidat] tell us how many [toys and other items] they need. For what gender—male or female—and by age range.”
They also received a huge boost from the Sons and Daughters Club of Guam, which raised $2,700 in a concert they organized last month in San Diego. Two Lovers Point, Jason J., Swells, 56 Hope, Anthony Francisco, Tribal Theory, Orlon Saralu, and Leilani Wolfgram were some of the artists who took part in the fundraising concert last Nov. 18.
Villanueva said they will be using the money for the program. “We’re going to take some of that money and donate that for Toys for Tots. We’ll be buying toys locally at stores to support our local vendors. …We will also be using some of the money in hosting a mini-carnival, which we’ll be partnering with DYS that is actually happening on Dec. 13, 15, 20, and 22.”
Marine Corps reservist Major Bill Hendricks founded the Toys of Tots program in 1947 that is now run by the USMC Reserve, which annually gives out toys to children whose parents cannot afford to buy Christmas gifts to their children.