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CLINE: A Toys for Tots tradition

Todd Cline

Todd Cline

IF YOU GO

What: Venture Sports Shows Toys for Tots drive

When: Friday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Where: Village Shoppes at Creekside, Lawrenceville

More info: Go to www.vssgolf.com>

It’s hard to determine when an occurrence becomes a tradition. But 15 years about does it.

Doug Reid has a Christmas tradition, which has led to one of my own — recognizing his. This is the 15th year that the owner of Venture Sports Shows has held his annual Toys for Tots toy drive, an endeavor that has been so successful that Reid has become the No. 2 private toy collector in the state.

Reid is a sports collectibles dealer who has transferred his business online after having a shop at the Santa Fe Mall in Duluth for years. His toy drive combines two of his passions — collectibles and helping kids — with people being given tickets for each $10 gift they donate that can be used to get autographs from local celebrities. During the toy drive, Reid also hosts a collectibles show, featuring everything from baseball cards to autographed helmets, giving visitors a chance to pick up Christmas gifts for the sports fans in their lives.

It’s an idea that has worked well — Reid estimates his toy drives have netted more than 400,000 donated toys over the years — and one that continues this week. Reid’s 15th annual event will be held Friday through Sunday at Suite 110 in the Village Shoppes at Creekside, located at 860 Duluth Highway in Lawrenceville.

Though the event is Reid’s vision, he’s the first to admit it’s more about others than him.

“After all the years I am still amazed at all the kindness and generosity that people here in the area demonstrate every year to ensure kids have a gift for Christmas. I really believe this is one of the most generous areas in the country,” he said. “As I look back I am so thankful for all of the celebrities who have donated their time, some almost all 15 years. Many of them have such busy schedules and have so many requests and demands on their time and yet they still take time to help out in this great cause.”

One of those celebrities who has been a mainstay at the event is Hall of Fame pitcher and former Atlanta Brave Phil Niekro. Niekro will again participate, as will former Atlanta Falcons Scott Case and Dewey McClain and many others, including actor Cameron Gaskins, who has a part in the hit movie “Enders Game.” You can see a complete schedule of who is signing when by going to www.vssgolf.com.

A new wrinkle this year is there will be a live band performing: The Big Don Band featuring special guest Thomas Gaddy on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The collectibles show runs each day from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. with the autograph signings taking place from noon to 6.

The goal this year is to collect 30,000 toys for needy children during the three-day event. With past performance as an indicator, it’s a goal that will be met as Reid’s Christmas tradition continues.

Email Todd Cline at todd.cline@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Wednesdays.