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Toys for Tots needs help to spread cheer

Toys for Tots Hazlehurst, a group of five core volunteers bringing toys to children throughout five counties, is looking for help providing a drop-off and distribution point for Brookhaven and Lincoln County.

Every year, the group collects thousands of toys across its area to give to thousands of families in need. Money donated to the non-profit organization goes back into buying toys for children. Even rent for the building they’re working out of comes out of the pocket of Program Coordinator Deonka Mazie.

“We’re the ones who are on the ground day to day,” Mazie said. “Whatever time it takes — 24 hours a day if necessary.”

Maize, who is a veteran of the United States Navy, said that since the national Toys for Tots organization is run by the U.S. Marine Corps, it was only natural that she continued to serve through them. And she knows what it’s like to have children that go without.

“I had five children,” Maize said. “I saw the looks on their face when they didn’t receive anything for Christmas.”

For Maize, seeing a child’s eyes light up after getting a toy on Christmas is one of the best feelings a person can have.

“The worst feeling you can have is to know that a child didn’t get anything,” she said.

Parents can apply for their children online at toysfortots.org. Families and potential sponsors for drop-off sites can also call Mazie at 601-863-9763 or email hazlehurst.ms@toysfortots.org.

The deadline to apply online for Toys for Tots is Dec. 1, but Maizie said parents can still apply by phone after that point, and the group doesn’t intend to turn anyone down.

Because of the lack of distribution and drop-off points in Brookhaven and Lincoln County, the deadline to donate toys has been extended to Dec. 13.

“Help the kids get something for Christmas,” Mazie said. “It’s important. We’ve got to get back to our children. We’ve got to show them the community cares about them.”