Waller Named Toys for Tots 2018 Coordinator of the Year
Volunteers Make Sure Needy Children Get Toys for Christmas
Last updated 9/25/2019 at 11:44am
David Waller, coordinator of the U. S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Campaign of Polk County, recently attended the annual Toys for Toys Training Conference in Washington. Waller was recognized as "Coordinator of the Year for 2018" for the Southeast United States and also served as a mentor to new coordinators.
Waller grew up in Lake Wales and now lives in Lakeland. After retiring from law enforcement and selling his paver business Waller said he was looking for a volunteer activity to stay busy, noting "I realized I could only play golf so many days a week."
Waller heard Toys for Tots needed help, so he stepped up and became the Polk County coordinator. He recruited a former co-worker, Sam McGuirt, who has been Waller's right-hand person at the Auburndale warehouse and coordinating logistics.
Waller said he was surprised and honored to receive the Coordinator of the Year award after just his second year with the Polk County program. He was pleased his wife, Kim, was with him in Leesburg, VA when he was honored.
"I was very excited, but this award is not just for me, but due to the hard work of all the volunteers and the community involvement in supporting our program," said Waller, who received the award Sept. 13 at a conference attended by more than 500 Toys for Tots program coordinators from throughout the U.S.
The U. S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Campaign of Polk County is a nonprofit program that receives new, unwrapped toys from the community and distributes those toys to needy children throughout Polk County at Christmas using volunteers. Families receiving some form of government assistance qualify to receive toys for their children who are infants through age 13. The enrollment period is Oct. 1 to Nov. 15, and the toys will be distributed Dec. 14 at pickup locations throughout Polk County. In 2018, 46,655 toys were given to Polk County children.
Waller said the organization can always use more toy drop-off locations and volunteers to pick up toys and to help at the Auburndale warehouse. The Rotary on the Ridge service club assists with placing drop boxes and picking up toys in the Lake Wales area.
Volunteers are needed to sort and bag toys at the Auburndale warehouse, to serve as route drivers picking up toys at the drop box locations and deliver them to the warehouse and to pass out bags of toys to families on distribution day. The group especially needs helpers during the week of Dec. 10 as toys are moved to the distribution sites and on the Dec. 14 toy distribution day. Last year the group staffed 15 sites around the county where families picked up their bags of toys.
Waller said he would especially like more teenage volunteers: "I hope that youth organizations get involved to learn about volunteerism and to also learn about helping those that are less fortunate than themselves."
The local website is polkcounty-fl.toysfortots.org and the phone number is 863-292-8687. Interested citizens can visit the website to sign up to volunteer, request to become a toy drop box location, donate to the campaign, and request toys for Christmas.