By CHERIL VERNON
Thanks to a large toy donation from Walmart Distribution Center No. 6036 in Tucker, a handful of local organizations will be able to provide more toys to local children just in time for Christmas.
Associate of Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 991 Representative Hattie Kitchens was contacted Monday by Walmart Distribution Center No. 6036 Operational Manager R.J. Hermans, who asked if the group would be interested in a 53-foot semi-trailer full of toys to provide to children in the area.
“I can’t thank Walmart Distribution Center enough. It was overwhelming when we opened that truck and saw all of the cases of toys,” Kitchens said.
The AVVA Chapter 991 had recently participated in a Toys for Tots™ event in conjunction with Dogwood Trails Assisted Living and Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 991 in late November during a “Fill the Truck” chili cook-off event. The chapter collected toys in exchange for chili dinner tickets. A Vietnam-era Army truck had been set up at the site to collect the toys. After the chili cook-off event, the Army truck was moved to Walmart Supercenter’s parking lot to continue collecting toys.
“We filled up the truck that day with toys — it was amazing,” Kitchens said. “We had teamed up with the Toys for Tots™ out of Tyler, a trademark for the Marine Reserve. Because we teamed up with them, they allowed us to place boxes using their trade name to collect toys. The toys we collect stay in our community.”
Walmart Distribution Center’s donation Monday included 2,000 cases of Zhu Zhu pets and Zhu Zhu accessories.
“We called our members and they showed up in numbers — that’s what we do whenever there is a need in our community or our veterans need something, we are there and we get it done,” Kitchens said. “It took 22 members and friends about 2 1/2 hours of constant, non-stop assembly line work to get the truck unloaded box by box.”
The AVVA chapter distributed the toys to various groups holding local toy drives including the Rainbow Room, KYYK 98.3, Sanctuary House and the Palestine Herald-Press.
Some of the toys were donated to the families of Army soldiers from the 41st Fire Brigade, based in Fort Hood.
“They just came back from Afghanistan and will be deployed again right after the holidays,” Kitchens said. “They came to the Vietnam Veterans asking for assistance, and we are making it happen thanks to Walmart.”