Santa Claus has learned that he can count on Mansfield.
In the past two years, residents have rounded up more than 36,000 toys for Toys for Tots to help the Jolly Old Elf make the holidays brighter for kids in need.
“It is crazy,” said Lynn Wilkie, who organizes the event for the Mansfield ISD Center for Performing Arts. “(Toys for Tots) says in 20 years they have been doing it, they have never had a community come out like Mansfield.”
In addition to U.S. Marines collecting toys, the party will include a parade with high school mascots and drumlines, 40,000 pounds of snow for a snow tubing hill, live reindeer, an inflatable obstacle course, performances every 15 minutes from local groups, arts and crafts, free coffee and hot chocolate, plus pictures with Santa. Each Mansfield high school will have a booth inside the center with separate activities for kids, like ornament making, balloon animals, bowling and letters to Santa. Food trucks will also be on hand, in case anyone gets hungry. All activities, except the food trucks, are free.
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“It’s so much fun, so festive,” Wilkie said. “It’s the biggest feel-good event that I’ve been involved in.”
While the participants are all having fun, the toys keep piling up. Boxes have been set up at every school in the Mansfield district since Nov. 10 for new, unwrapped toys. Toys for Tots especially needs toys for boys, Wilkie said. People who donate bikes should remember to bring a helmet, too, Wilkie added.
“We’re not setting a goal, we just want to share the joy of giving,” she said.
People who don’t know what to buy can write a check to Toys for Tots and give it to the Center for Performing Arts. Toys for Tots can get discounts on toys to make the funds go even further, Wilkie said.
“All of the toys stay in the DFW area,” she said. “Civic and charitable groups from Mansfield will get toys.”