Toys for Tots looking for home
Chapter refocuses, needs local facility

LAWRENCEVILLE - Toys for Tots doesn't normally hit full stride until later in the year, but a Gwinnett chapter is hoping to get things going a little sooner.

The local Toys for Tots campaign - formerly known as the metro Atlanta division - is now the north Atlanta division. The change goes deeper than the name, said Steve Cahn, a Gwinnett firefighter and Marine reservist.

"As you know, the metro Atlanta area is quite extensive," Cahn said. "Now, we will service Barrow, Gwinnett, Dawson, Forsyth and Walton counties. It'll be much more manageable."

The organization previously served 18 counties. Those counties will continue to be served by area chapters.

As part of the transition, Toys for Tots will relocate its distribution center from Cobb County to Gwinnett, and that's where the organization is looking for help.

Previously, organizers used a Marine Corps warehouse in Cobb. Now they are looking for a charitable soul to donate warehouse space to help make the 2009 campaign the biggest yet. Cahn said the event has grown steadily in recent years as more people have become aware of it.

"We want to make this a yearlong cycle instead of starting in late October or November," Cahn said. "We have people wanting to donate toys throughout the year, but nowhere to house them. We plan on having the Gwinnett Braves do Christmas in July."

Cahn said the ideal facility will offer:

· 15,000 to 20,000 square feet of space

· Two loading docks

· Minimal office space

· A bathroom

He said the organization is also looking for volunteers. He hopes to put together a staff that can run the distribution center five days a week.

Toys for Tots is a national, nonprofit organization that has provided toys for needy children since 1947, when a group of Marine reservists distributed 5,000 toys in Los Angeles.

For more information or to volunteer, visit www.atlantatoysfortots.com.