Toys for Tots toy drive, registration set this weekend in Unicoi; Speedway Children's Charities launches season with $805,000 in gifts to children's programs

Sue Guinn Legg • Nov 16, 2018 at 10:52 PM

The Unicoi County Firefighters Association will conduct a Firefighters Toy Program and Toys for Tots toy drive and registration for Unicoi County children in need Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 17 and 18, at Walmart in Unicoi.

The signup will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. both days at the entrance of Walmart, 110 Rocky Bottom Road, just off Exit 34 of Interstate 26.

Any child in Unicoi County from birth up through age 14 who is in need of assistance at Christmas may be registered by their parent or legal guardian.

New toys and cash donations to purchase toys for distribution to children will be collected during the event.

The Unicoi Firefighters Association includes the Unicoi, Limestone Cove and Southside volunteer fire departments. For more information about the holiday toy drive, contact the fire departments.

• The Johnson City Masonic Lodge and Order of the Eastern Star will host a benefit chicken and dumplings dinner from noon to 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 18, at the lodge at 304 W. Watauga Ave.

The cost is a suggested $8 donation. Proceeds will go to charitable projects supported by the lodge.

• Speedway Children’s Charities’ largest fundraiser of the year is off and running. The Speedway in Lights holiday light show at Bristol Motor Speedway opened Friday and will continue nightly through Jan. 5.

Friday night’s opening was preceded by Speedway Children’s Charities’ annual Night of Smiles distribution of the proceeds from last year’s holiday light show and other fundraising events held throughout the year.

The Thursday night check presentations included a total of $805,141 in cash awards to 93 youth service agencies and programs across Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia.

The largest of the awards, the annual $50,000 Jeff Byrd Grant, was presented to the Boys & Girls Club of Central Appalachia in Grundy, Va., for sensory rooms at four Buchanan County elementary and middle schools where the club operates.

The rooms are designed to help students who have autism and other sensory disorders cope with stressful situations, regulate sensory needs and reduce challenging behaviors that result because of overstimulation.

The Night of Smiles check representations also included an $8,000 gift to the nonprofit Johnson City Press Christmas Box holiday food distribution to the families of Salvation Army Angel Tree children in Washington, Carter and Unicoi counties.

Award recipients in the greater Johnson City area also included The ARC of Washington County; Assistance and Resource Ministry; Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee; the Boys and Girls Club of Carter, Washington and Greene counties; Cap the Gap for Foster Care; Court Appointed Special Advocates; Children's Advocacy Centers in judicial districts across the region; and the Junior League of Kingsport’s Children Exceeding Expectations School for children with cancer.

Coalition for Kids; the Crumley House Brain Injury Rehabilitation Center; the East Tennessee Christian Home and Academy; Girls Inc. of Bristol, Kingsport and Johnson City; Girls on the Run; Good Samaritan Ministries; Holston Habitat for Humanity; Hands On! Discovery Center; Niswonger Children's Hospital; One Acre Cafe; Rise Up!; Second Harvest Food Bank; Shepard's Inn; Small Miracles Therapeutic Equestrian Center; Southern Appalachian Ronald McDonald House; and the Unicoi County Family YMCA were also among the Night of Smiles grant recipients.

Speedway Children’s Charities Executive Director Claudia Byrd said, “Although demand for assistance will always exceed our ability to help, we are blessed to work with so many inspiring organizations in this region that are focused on providing vital assistance to the children who need it most.”

If there is a need or a project in your neighborhood the Good Neighbor column can assist with, contact Sue Guinn Legg at 423-722-0538, [email protected] or P.O. Box 1717, Johnson City, TN 37605.

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