Toy platoon ensures gifts for families of enlisted

In 2008, Dollar Tree partnered with Operation Homefront and collected $5.8 million in toys that were distributed at U.S. military bases stateside in time for the holidays. That's a whole heap of Christmas cheer!

This year, Dollar Tree is hoping to repeat that success with the help of its customers. In fact, according to the Operation Homefront Web site, the goal this year is to collect $6 million in toys.

And why not? You don't have to spend a lot to make a kid happy and if everyone who could, donated a $5 or $10 toy, this goal could be met and then some.

The 2009 toy drive runs Nov. 15-Dec. 15. All you do is purchase a toy or care item and drop it off in a Toy Platoon collection box located in any of Dollar Tree's 3,700 stores nationwide. Operation Homefront will then collect and distribute these items to needy military families in your area.

The recession has hit military families especially hard over the last year. Since last year, Operation Homefront has seen a 46% increase in requests for financial assistance and a 222% increase in requests for food assistance. Donated toys allow these families to provide a happy holiday for their children.

The idea behind Operation Homefront is simple.The brave men and women in the armed forces often deploy leaving behind families that struggle with day-to-day expenses and unforeseen emergencies.

Operation Homefront is a non-profit organization that provides emergency assistance and morale for the troops, the families they leave behind and the wounded soldiers when they return home.

The organization leads more than 4,500 volunteers in 30 chapters nationwide and has met more than 105,000 needs since 2002. Charity watchdog, Charity Navigator, has rated Operation Homefront a four-star charity. Out of every dollar donated, 92 cents goes to programs. Impressive!

Operation Homefront operates year-round to provide assistance to military personnel and their families in a wide variety of ways. Visit the Operation Homefront website to find out more about these programs. You can also volunteer for local toy distribution events and find out about other ways you can help your military neighbors in need.

Marlene Alexander is a freelance writer and dollar store diva. She writes tips and ideas for home decorating using only items from the dollar store. Marlene is also the author of Christmas - Dollar Store Style, an e-book that shows you how to decorate, entertain and create beautiful gifts using only items from the dollar store.
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