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Arlington Knights of Columbus hosting Santa and Marines at annual Toys for Tots drive

Toys collected last year during the Arlington Knights of Columbus drive (Photo courtesy Myles McMorrow)

After receiving thousands of toys last year, the Arlington Knights of Columbus on Little Falls Road will be hold its second annual Toys for Tots drive this weekend.

The drive will be held on both Saturday and Sunday (Dec. 4 and 5), from noon to 7 p.m., outside of the Knights of Columbus Arlington Council 2473 at 5115 Little Falls Road, in the Rock Spring neighborhood.

Like last year, the event will be drive-thru only, with uniformed Marines, volunteers, and Mr. and Mrs. Claus greeting folks and helping to gather toys. There will also be thousands of Christmas lights decorating the 117-year-old building and festive inflatables to get all in the mood.

The organization is also known for annually providing Thanksgiving meals to those in the community who are in need.

2020 marked the first year for the toy drive. Organized by Knights of Columbus member Myles McMorrow and his wife Kate Gilchrist, the community’s dedication last year caught them by surprise.

“We were just shocked at the outpouring,” McMorrow tells ARLnow. “We thought we may get a couple hundred toys. But, then, the cars kept on coming, coming, and coming.”

In the end, McMorrow says they collected nearly 4,000 toys for needy children. The hope, of course, is that the number will be topped this year.

What’s needed most this holiday season are toys for infants to 2-year-olds, as well as toys for older kids ages 11 to 14, notes McMorrow.

When collected, all the toys will be shipped down to the Toys for Tots facility near Fredericksburg, from which the organization,  run by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, will distribute the gifts.

McMorrow believes the reason for the drive’s success so far is because many offices are either still shut down or at reduced capacity with more people working from home. Traditionally, offices are where such holiday donation drives take place. People still want to give, but the opportunities to do this are fewer given remote work, he notes.

If folks can’t make the trip this weekend, boxes will be available at the Knights of Columbus for toy drop-off through Christmas.

Even during an extremely tough 20 months for all, McMorrow remains amazed at the local desire to help others.

“People pulled up with van loads [of toys],” he says about last year’s drive. “I mean, the whole back of their Yukon was just full of toys. People are very generous.”

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