Central and east Pasco County come through in tough year
By Kyle LoJacono
ZEPHYRHILLS — Even though 2009 was not the best for most businesses or people, East Pasco Toys for Tots still distributed presents to thousands of needy children.
“Based on last year, we actually gave toys to more people in 2009 than in 2008,” said Anna Fulk, captain for the Wesley Chapel distribution location. “We just had many more people to help. We did run out of presents for the older kids, but we managed to help everyone that was registered through the schools and many more that showed up afterward.”
The toys were distributed on Dec. 19, and the good news for needy children came from all the distribution sites.
“It’s a good year when we run out of families before we run out of toys, and that’s what happened at all five of our stations,” said Bob Loring, EPTFT coordinator. “I was very pleased with how this year’s distribution went because of how rough the economy was. Our communities here in Pasco take ownership of the needy kids and always come through to help. I was very pleased with the generosity of the whole east side.”
Loring is known as the head elf for EPTFT and has been the coordinator since 1999.
The five distribution sites for EPTFT included:
— Wesley Chapel Elementary in Wesley Chapel
— Land O’ Lakes Community Center in Land O’ Lakes
— Alice B. Hall Community Center in Zephyrhills
— Pasco-Hernando Community College in Dade City
— New Life Assembly in Trilby
While EPTFT focuses on helping Pasco County children, the program does not turn away children who live in Hillsborough County zip codes that cross into Pasco.
At the Wesley Chapel site, toys were separated by gender and age on tables set up in a circle, which has come to be known as the “Circle of Life.” Parents were able to “shop” for toys at the tables.
“It’s just like shopping without a cashier,” Loring said. “At some of the stations, parents also got to take socks and toothbrushes for the kids. We also gave out food to the parents. They got frozen chickens with all the fixings for a Christmas dinner.”
To help or for more information on EPTFT, e-mail Loring at , call him at (352) 588-4230 or visit www.toysfortotspasco.org.
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