Groups work together to benefit undertoyed kids

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Walmart and Pepsi are teaming up Friday for a daylong toy drive for Toys for Tots.

Toy drives will be taking place at all 58 Walmart stores in Washington state, including the College Place location off Meadowbrook Boulevard. The event is designed as an opportunity for residents in area Walmart communities to donate toys, bicycles, books and gear for children in need.

The Walmart Foundation Washington State Giving Council has also awarded a $25,000 grant to the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program in Washington. Local Toys for Tots coordinator Beth Swanson said the local chapter will get a portion of that grant to spend locally on toys.

She plans to be at the College Place Walmart from 9 a.m. to noon Friday for the toy drive. Other volunteers will be onsite throughout the day.

“Walmart is proud to support Toys for Tots to help children and families in Washington,” said Matti Havener, Walmart’s regional general manager for Oregon and Washington, in a prepared statement. “We are happy to partner with our dedicated Washington Marines so that children around the state can experience the joy of the holiday season with new toys, bicycles and helmets, books, games, gear and more.”

The annual campaign is designed to help economically disadvantaged children receive a new toy or item at Christmastime and offers a message of hope. Nearly 25,000 Marines, Marine Corps League members, veteran Marines and volunteers are involved in the annual campaigns.

“We’re extremely grateful for Walmart’s generosity, which enables Marines in Washington to find appropriate gifts for hard-to-shop-for toddlers and teens,” said U.S. Marine Sgt. Kurt Chmielewski, Toys for Tots Foundation coordinator for Washington. “The Walmart grant also significantly increases the number of Washington children who will receive gifts this year through Toys for Tots.”

For its part, PepsiCo is facilitating the pickup of donations at the stores.

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