Twice a year, Marty Pay of Marty Pay Insurance gives Santa Claus a helping hand by hosting a Toys For Tots donation drive for local children in the community.
The United States Marine Corps' Toys For Tots program believes that all children are well-deserving, and Pay has been doing his part to bring Christmas magic to less fortunate children for the past three years.
Last year, Pay said he collected 550 toys in December, all of which were distributed to Tehachapi children. This year, he said he thinks he will break that record.
"I think we are going to get over 550 toys this year. Somebody already dropped off over 100 Baby Beanies," said Pay, who is himself a Marine veteran.
In addition to the winter toy drive, Pay hosts a Christmas in July drive, and collected 250 additional toys during the summer.
To make a toy donation, bring a new, unwrapped toy to Marty Pay Insurance Agency, located at 212 W. F St. Additional collection sites can also be found at Tehachapi Treasure Trove, Tehachapi Martial Arts, Country Real Estate, Bank of the West, Tehachapi Area Association of Realtors, Inc., and the city of Tehachapi.
Toy donations will be collected through Dec. 17. On Dec. 18, Pay will deliver the donated toys to Tompkins Elementary School and to the Salvation Army in Tehachapi. The toys will be distributed to children that week.
"It is a blessing to receive any toys, especially from Toys For Tots. Marty believes in the Salvation Army and what we do. These toys will go to our Angel Tree program, and we are so grateful for his efforts," said Sandy Chavez, center coordinator for the Salvation Army.
Recommended ages for donated toys is for elementary school-age children; however, Pay said all toys will be welcomed.
As with the last toy drives, everybody who donates a toy will get a chance at a drawing for several prizes, including a 45-inch flat screen television donated by Sage Ranch. The drawing for the raffle prizes will be held Dec. 18.
"This is such a great community," Pay said. "We put on something like this, and everybody rallies behind it. In a small town like Tehachapi, everybody gives back, and that's the way it should be."
Pay also reminds the community to drop by and see Santa and Mrs. Claus at Tehachapi's annual Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting event to be held at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, in downtown Tehachapi.
For more information on how you can help brighten the holidays for a local child, contact Marty Pay at 822-3737.