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Giving Back: Toys for Tots delivers

Historic Riverlands Christian Center hosting event for needy children

RESERVE — Rita Perrilloux doesn’t have to wait until Dec. 25 to see Christmas joy on the faces of children as they open presents and receive new toys.

Perrilloux is the organizer of the local United States Marine Corps Reserve’s Toys for Tots giveaway, which takes place this week.

Children from infant to age 12 will get to visit and have photos taken with Santa, explore a fire truck, munch on hotdogs and Zapps potato chips and choose their ultimate toy from 1-3 p.m. Saturday at Historic Riverlands Christian Center, 480 NW 3rd St. in Reserve.

Rita Perrilloux, showing off her Toys for Tots hat while wearing Christmas attire, said she is excited to host the gift giveaway event this week in Reserve.

Rita Perrilloux, showing off her Toys for Tots hat while wearing Christmas attire, said she is excited to host the gift giveaway event this week in Reserve.

It’s the fifth annual Toys for Tots giveaway at the Christian Center.

Perrilloux said the event is a lot of work, but worth it.

“It is a joy,” said Perrilloux. “It’s a thrill to watch the excitement of the kids. You see their faces as they go through and find that one thing they want.”

Dorlisa Fobb of Reserve said she and her 8-year-old daughter, Shiloh Champagne, love the toy giveaway.

“She runs through the toys,” Fobb said. “They have a choice of what they want and whatever kind of toy they want, they have. They get overwhelmed to see so many toys to choose from.”

Fobb said Shiloh (who is hoping to find something for her American Doll to ride in) also loves the fire truck and the Marines.

“We don’t get to see them in their uniforms around here,” she said. “I enjoy that too.”

Perrilloux said volunteers are on hand to help the children find whatever treasure they are looking for. The toys are arranged by age groups to ensure the children receive toys that are age-appropriate.

Freida Brown of LaPlace is one of the many volunteers.

“It’s fabulous,” she said. “You get to see kids who might not get as many toys under their tree. They come out and they have a choice. It’s just a joy. You see the joy on their faces. You also see them trying to decide what to pick. You try to guide them toward the toys that are for their age.”

Perrilloux said the event has been held at the church since 2012, after Hurricane Isaac devastated the area.

“We were contacted by Breakthrough Magazine out of New Orleans and asked to host for St. John,” Perrilloux said, adding the event has grown larger each year.

“We know because we order 1,000 hotdogs and 1,000 bags of chips and, when it’s over, everything is gone.”

The Toys for Tots program was founded in 1947 to help distribute toys to children whose parents may not be able to afford to buy them gifts for Christmas. As of 2016, the organization has collected and distributed more than 500 million toys.

Another giveaway will be held Christmas Day from 10:30 a.m. to noon at Choice International, 516 E. Airline Highway in LaPlace.

There are other toy giveaways in the area not sponsored by the USMCR.

For information about the toy giveaway in Reserve, contact Perrilloux at 985-210-6621 or email ritaperrilloux@att.net.

For information about the Christmas Day giveaway, contact Keisha Fleming at 225-620-6368 or 985-651-7844 or email choice516@hotmail.com.

For information about Toys for Tots, including how to receive a toy for a child, visit toysfortots.org.