Toys, cheer to those in need

Published 7:42 am Saturday, December 29, 2018

More than 200 children experienced a Christmas Eve to remember, thanks to volunteers with the Carl U. Eggleston Foundation’s annual toy giveaway held Monday.

The event, which has taken place for more than 10 years, allows children and families in the county to not only choose their own gifts, but also take photos with Santa Claus himself, performed by Bill Jenkins.

(To view a small gallery of photos from the event, click here.)

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Participating in the event were members from several organizations that included the Prince Edward Elk’s Lodge #269, Masons Randolph Lodge #30, the Carl U. Eggleston Foundation, members of the public, retirees and area ministers and Manhattan Temple #184.

Event organizer Carl U. Eggleston said there were $4,000 worth of toys and more than 400 gifts that included bicycles, dollhouses and other toys. Some of the gifts distributed also included winter coats and scarves.

Eggleston said it’s a requirement for families to bring children with them, citing that it gives children an opportunity to choose their gifts and interact with Santa. Some children even won bicycles and other prizes.

“We let them pick out the gifts that they want,” Eggleston said.

“We’re very happy with it,” Eggleston said about the turnout for the event, that saw approximately 207 children.

He said organizers developed the event nearly 15 years ago to address the struggles many families experience of having to choose between gifts for their children and paying for essentials, such as heating, food, or paying taxes and bills.

“We realize that during this time of year, parents have the heating bills, they have their real estate taxes and taxes due, they have other expense that they need to take care of, and sometimes the last thing they put or funnel money to is toys,” Eggleston said. “We from the Elks, the Masons, and … the foundation, all decided we would try to help those underprivileged families and children. We feel that it was a great success, and next year we plan to have it bigger and better.”

Before the toy giveaway, members of the foundation hosted a community leaders breakfast Monday morning for the county and town police chiefs, the Prince Edward County Board of Supervisors members and the Farmville Town Council members.

“It was a way to get people in the spirit of giving, and get people truly in the Christmas spirit,” Eggleston said. He said some members who participated in the breakfast also helped volunteer and distribute gifts.

Eggleston said the Carl U. Eggleston Foundation accepts contributions during the year. Checks can be made payable to the Carl U. Eggleston Foundation, and sent to P.O. Box 548, Farmville, VA 23901.

He said the donations are tax deductible, as the foundation is a nonprofit organization.