By Amanda Rogers
COVID-19 can’t stop the United States Marines or Santa Claus.
Mansfield ISD’s annual Toys for Tots Drive is set for 5-10:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 2, at the Mansfield ISD Center for Performing Arts, 1110 W. Debbie Lane. And Santa and the Marines will be on hand to collect toys for kids in need.
“This year with everything that’s going on, it’s going to be a little bit different,” said Flo Torres, director of the Mansfield ISD Center for Performing Arts, which hosts the event. “It will be a true toy drive with people driving up and dropping off toys.”
The Marines will be taking the hand-offs and guarding the toys, while Santa visits with the kids. Santa’s appointment book is full for the evening, but if some families didn’t get on the list they can line up in their cars at 9 p.m. at the center and Santa will pose with the whole carload.
After dropping off their toys, students and their parents can park in front of the Center for Performing Arts or behind Ben Barber Innovation Academy to watch a pre-recorded video of performances by students from around the district on a pair of massive LED screens.
“A pre-show of trivia and books being read starts at 5 p.m.,” Torres said. “The show starts at 6 p.m. and will run for an hour to an hour and 20 minutes and then repeat.”
Drivers will be alerted to a radio station to tune in to listen to the show, and speakers will be set up.
The Toys for Tots drive is one of the largest events the center hosts every year, collecting 30,000 toys in 2019 for kids in need, Torres said. She doesn’t know what 2020’s Toys for Tots will bring.
“I never worry about how many toys we’re going to get,” Torres said. “The community of Mansfield has done of great job of giving every year. I have no expectations. A lot of people are suffering and going through a lot.”
Torres takes pride in the free annual Toys for Tots celebration, which usually includes a parade, food vendors, student performances, a mascot race, games and activities.
“It’s an event for the entire family,” she said. “With COVID, we’re unable to be together in large groups.”
Mansfield, Texas, is a booming city, nestled between Fort Worth and Dallas, but with a personality all its own. The city’s 76,247 citizens enjoy an award-winning school district, vibrant economy, historic downtown, prize-winning park system and community focus spread across 37 square miles. The Mansfield Record is dedicated to reporting city and school news, community happenings, police and fire news, business, food and restaurants, parks and recreation, library, historical archives and special events. The city’s only online newspaper launched in September 2020 and will offer introductory advertising rates for the first three months at three different rates.