“If it weren’t for the Salvation Army and programs like that, we wouldn’t have had many Christmases growing up,” Vinyard said.
“I’m glad we could do this,” she added.
Vinyard has worked at Tapecraft Corp. in Oxford for 41 years. Looking at the new bicycles and boxes of donated toys, she recalled her own childhood when Christmas presents for herself and her five siblings were never to be taken for granted.
This year, employees at Tapecraft donated 54 bicycles to the Marine Corps League Allan Ray Chaffin detachment in Anniston. That’s up from last year’s donation of 27 bicycles, said Khaled El-Zeaiter, human resource and safety manager at Tapecraft.
“The bicycle thing took off last year,” El-Zeaiter said. “And this year we had someone from Toys for Tots come and speak with the employees, and they were so appreciative over the bikes – It’s the number-one thing every kid wants – so the employees took that to heart and tried to do even more this year.”
El-Zeaiter stressed that while Tapecraft would be making a cash donation to Toys for Tots, the toys and bicycles all come from employees who paid for them out of their own pockets.
Employees at TempForce in Anniston loaded up all the bicycles and toys Wednesday at Tapecraft, and then took them to the league’s Anniston office, where they will later be delivered to the Anniston Salvation Army.
Families from Calhoun County have been selected by the Salvation Army from a list of applicants, and those families will begin picking up their gifts in the coming days.
Steve Stevens, senior vice president of the local Marine Corps League, said so far this year the amount of donated toys is looking good. Last year, the drive collected more than 11,000 toys for Calhoun County children. Stevens said organizers hope for an even better year this year, but they’ll have to visit several more collection points to see how things have shaped up.
It was Tapecraft employee Lori Baker’s task to collect money from her co-workers this year, and later to coordinate runs to Walmart to buy the bicycles.
“One of the comments I heard from an employee was that there will be lots of smiling kids at Christmas,” Baker said. “And I said ‘Yes, but there are lots of smiling adults here unloading bicycles.’ Everybody has really invested themselves in it. It just makes you feel good.”