Truro toy drive underway

By Tara Figurski
Staff Writer

Reynoldsburg resident Mary Burcham is hoping to collect at least 5,000 toys for Reynoldsburg residents in need with the annual toy drive she does with the Truro Township Fire Department.

Burcham said the toy drive began as a coat, hat and winter clothing drive for Reynoldsburg children in 1990 when her children attended Herbert Mills Elementary School. The toy drive targets children of all ages who reside in the Reynoldsburg City Schools district.

“I hooked up with Truro the last 16 or 17 years and added the toy (drive),” she said.

Burcham, a 40-year resident of Reynoldsburg, served on the Reynoldsburg Board of Education from 1997-99 and again from 2008-11, retiring in 2012.

“When my oldest (child) who is now 30 started kindergarten, I noticed way back then there were many kids not dressed warm enough,” she said. “It really bothered me.”

Burcham solicited donations and volunteers to help with the coat drive. Eventually the coat drive blossomed into a toy drive.

While the toy drive collects toys for children of all ages, volunteers receive the most donations for young people ages 5 to 7. It is often a struggle to collect presents for older kids who are growing out of toys, she said.

“We try to get those (kids) gift cards with monetary donations that we receive,” Burcham said. “We will take any and all toys unwrapped and new.”

Burcham anticipates that, with the assistance of the Truro Township Fire Department, she will collect 5,000 toys or presents this holiday season.

To receive financial assistance, participants must be a Reynoldsburg resident and at or below federal poverty guidelines. Participants must present identification to prove they are a Reynoldsburg resident.

“I hated to do that,” Burcham said. “But people were just coming and taking toys. That wasn’t my goal. My goal was to make sure kids who got toys actually needed them.”

Burcham also receives assistance from area businesses. Each year she sends out letters asking for monetary donations to help older kids. She has multiple businesses that have donated for years, including TS Tech USA Corporation, which has assisted with the program for three years. The company sponsors a contest where employees are divided into teams and the winning team earns a pizza party. Last year the company donated 350 toys.

TS Tech Safety Manager Eric Murphy said his company got involved with the toy drive because they wanted to give back to the community.

“We have a huge drive here,” Murphy said. “We build seats for Honda. We have 1,000 associates. We make it a big deal every year.”

The need has increased since Burcham started the toy drive. When she began the collection she had 50 kids. The past couple of years there have been in excess of 500 children needing assistance.

Application for assistance along with criteria will be available beginning Dec. 1, at the Main Street and Livingston Avenue fire stations. Applications will be collected on Dec. 11 and 12 from 4-7 p.m. at the Main Street fire station.

Donated toys may be dropped at the fire stations. Contact Burcham for information at 204-6634 or marybsdfs@yahoo.com.

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