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Lawrenceville resident helps facilitate partnership between Toys for Tots and Medieval Times

Chris Powell, 26, of Lawrenceville has helped facilitate a partnership between Toys for Tots and his employer, Medieval Times at Sugarloaf Mills in Lawrenceville. (Staff Photo: Deanna Allen)

Chris Powell, 26, of Lawrenceville has helped facilitate a partnership between Toys for Tots and his employer, Medieval Times at Sugarloaf Mills in Lawrenceville. (Staff Photo: Deanna Allen)

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Toys for Tots was founded in 1947 by Major Bill Hendricks with the U.S. Marine Corps. In 1948 The United States Marine Corps adopted Toys for Tots, and expanded it into a nationwide community action project as the U. S. Marine Corps Reserves Toys for Tots Program. From 1947 to 2012, the initiative had distributed nearly 16.8 million toys to more than 7 million children. In addition to its partnership with Medieval Times, Toys for Tots has partnered with Wild Bill’s in Duluth and the Gwinnett Gladiators hockey team. Those who wish to support Toys for Tots can bring a new, unwrapped toy to Wild Bill’s on Friday for free admission to an NFC fighting event, featuring former Marine George Lockhart versus Keith Johnson. On Friday and Sunday, the Gwinnett Gladiators are holding their Sing for Santa event featuring several elementary schools choruses in the area performing Christmas songs. Marines will be on site collecting toys at the doors of the Gwinnett Arena. For more information on Toys for Tots, visit www.atlantatoysfortots.com.

LAWRENCEVILLE — The first year Chris Powell volunteered with Toys for Tots he drove a 24-foot box truck around picking up toys throughout the metro Atlanta area.

The next year, the Lawrenceville resident delivered donation boxes to more than 100 stores and agencies that had signed on to collect toys for Toys for Tots, which helps families in need by providing Christmas gifts for children.

This year, Powell, 26, helped initiate a partnership between his employer, Medieval Times at Sugarloaf Mills in Lawrenceville, and Toys for Tots. Anyone who attends the Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament and brings along a new, unwrapped toy will receive a free souvenir package upgrade, which includes a program and a banner and a behind-the-scenes DVD for every group.

“The castle isn’t just a castle sitting in the mall,” Powell said. “It’s actually active in the community. Bringing this aspect to Medieval Times, I think it will kind of shed some light that we’re not just here to serve up a meal and a fun jousting show.”

Powell said his passion for Toys for Tots, and volunteering in general, comes from his parents, who run a nonprofit called Streetwise Georgia.

“I was raised in that kind of background for nonprofit work, so much so that I actually went to school for human services and an associate’s in sociology. That really does take a passion,” he said. “When I got out of school I realized that nonprofit work literally meant nonprofit.”

But Powell said it’s worth the time and effort — if you have the passion.

“If the passion’s not there, then there’s not really a whole lot to go for,” Powell said. “(When the passion’s there) it’s that smile you see on a kid getting a toy.”