Public safety officials collect bikes for Toys for Tots

Published 8:30 am Saturday, December 10, 2022

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On Friday afternoon, Troup County firefighters and sheriff’s deputies gathered at the Fire Administration Building on Hamilton Rd. in LaGrange to help load up dozens of bikes donated for Toys for Tots.

More than 50 bicycles and 20 scooters were donated by Walmart and other local businesses. The bikes will be added to countless other toys donated by other generous groups and individuals throughout the holiday season as part of the annual Toys for Tots campaign.

Troup County Fire Chief Michael Strickland said that each year Walmart donates bicycles that just need a little love.

“If somebody comes to Walmart, buys a bicycle and takes it home and it doesn’t work, they bring it back. [Walmart] doesn’t have anybody to fix them, so they just put it in the corner and exchange it for a new bicycle,” Strickland said.

“Now, each year Walmart gives the sheriff’s office all those bicycles in need of a little fix and the fire department helps provides the manpower to get those bikes up and going,” he said.

Some of the bikes just needed some bolts tightening up or were missing a single training wheel, which can go to a child who no longer needs them. Other bikes came in boxes, so deputies and firefighters put them together.

Georgia State Patrol Trooper George Cotton helps coordinate first responder’s efforts to assist with the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves Charles F. Waller detachment 1040 collection of toys each year.

Cotton is no longer stationed at Post 2 in LaGrange, now working throughout the state, but he returns each year to help with Toys for Tots.

“This is our 13th year helping with Toys for Tots. We’ve seen growth every year,” Cotton said.

Cotton said that volunteers from the sheriff’s office, all of the police and fire departments, EMS, and the marshal’s office come together to make Toys for Tots happen every year in Troup County.

“We just got some monetary donations today,” Cotton said. “I’m about to head out to purchase some helmets to go with these bikes. We try to give a helmet with every bike.”

Cotton said with monetary donations, everything they get turns into a toy for a child in Troup County.

Cotton said they were heading out to deliver some of the bikes to the Pilot Club in Hogansville, which will help distribute them to families in need. The families that receive gifts are vetted by local organizations to verify their needs, he said.

“Unfortunately, hard times fall on good people sometimes,” Cotton said. “The big thing we like people to understand is that children can’t choose their situation, and we don’t think a child should go without a toy for Christmas.”

Cotton said they will be back out at the Walmart in LaGrange on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for the final two days of this year’s toy drive.

“We invite everyone to come out and help provide a toy for a child in need,” Cotton said.