Nearly 400 families took part Saturday in Howard County’s third annual Toys for Tots Giveaway, hosted by County Executive Calvin Ball and held at Wilde Lake High School in Columbia.
Organizers said more than 20 schools in the county participated, registering 398 families to receive gifts for their children. Schools also helped with toy donations, and worked with the Toys for Tots organization.
At Wilde Lake on Saturday, an area was dedicated for toy “shopping,” with tables stacked with games, toys, dolls, action figures and other items.
Kimberly Pruim, director of Constituent Services and Community Partnerships for the county, said families were lined up when the doors opened, and the event saw a steady stream of participants throughout the morning and early afternoon. In all, she said, about 1,000 children would receive toys.
Ball was present during the morning hours of the event, as were members of the Marine Corps League Detachment 1084 in Ellicott City. Volunteers including Yvonne Jackson, assistant principal at Wilde Lake, worked with families to make selections. Pruim said that for those who signed up but couldn’t make the event, packages would be assembled so they could pick them up later.
Other volunteers included Wilde Lake seniors Ruiying Lai and Mengjie Lin, both 17. The two greeted families that had signed up in advance, and said they were happy to find an opportunity to help others during the holiday season.
“It’s good to be part of an event that helps the community,” Lin said. “It helps others have an enjoyable Christmas.”
Pruim has organized the event each year and said the annual giveaway is always inspiring. She noted that on Saturday, she was touched when a family was able to find a bicycle for their young daughter and became emotional — they hadn’t expected to receive such a meaningful gift.
“It’s those kind of moments that touch your soul,” Pruim said. “It’s the impetus for why we do this.”