Submitted by Charles Pringle
The WNC Toys for Tots campaign received more than 1,000 toys – including stuffed animals, dolls, cars and trucks, games, books and more – from Harrah’s Cherokee Casino & Hotel employees as part of the 2009 Toys for Tots Campaign. This year, construction workers from Turner Construction and Yates-Rentenbach joined the campaign as members of the Harrah’s Cherokee family with their own contributions arriving in two trucks.
A human “bucket brigade” of more than 100 HERO volunteers from Harrah’s Cherokee and Turner Construction moved the toys at 11am, Monday, Dec. 21, from the hotel sky bridge down to an awaiting 18-foot long train, the Toys for Tots parade float, which transported the toys from the casino to the Toys for Tots Headquarters in Franklin, NC.
“This is by far our largest single donation,” said Toys for Tots Coordinator Randy D. Hughes, Commandant of the Smoky Mountain Detachment. “The toys from the Harrah’s Cherokee employees will allow us to meet our goal for needy children here in Western North Carolina. We have grown to rely on the generous employees here to put us over the top each year. We couldn’t do it without them.”
The mission of the U. S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program is to collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year, and distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to needy children in the communities in which the campaign is conducted and to unite all the members of the communities in a common cause.
Human Resources Vice President Jo Blaylock said, “The Toys for Tots campaign has become part of our employee culture here at Harrah’s Cherokee. The employees are always so generous during the toy drive and it means so much to children here and in the surrounding counties. I’m proud of our employees for their spirit of community involvement, especially at this time of year.”
Once the toys were safely loaded in the sleigh, Harrah’s Cherokee celebrated the successful toy drive by serving cake and coffee to casino guests, employees and volunteers who helped with the toy pick-up.