A Labor of Love for 2011 Toys for Tots Campaign

Charlestown residents design, create & decorate fifty-two toys for area children

CATONSVILLE, MD---Back in May, nine residents at Charlestown retirement community started to make weekly trips to the resident woodshop for a special project. With hobbyist magazines honing their creativity, the right tools crafting their designs and energy rivaling Santa's workshop, these woodworkers used their talents to make the holidays brighter for local children. The group created fifty-two hand-made and painted toys, an assortment of puzzles, piggy banks, pull toys, building blocks and games, all headed to families through the 2011 Toys for Tots campaign. With nearly one hundred "Hot Wheels" match-box cars donated by Charlestown, the gifts were presented to Staff Sergeant Johnny Kline of the United States Marine Corps during a ceremony at the retirement community's Cross Creek Station in December.  SSgt. Kline is this season's Marine coordinator for Toys for Tots in the Baltimore area. The toys will be distributed in Baltimore City and Baltimore, Carroll and Howard Counties, where tens of thousands of families have registered to receive gifts through the program. Jim Mullis, a Charlestown resident, is the project coordinator.  Every year is a little different, he states: "Our team is very talented, and we try to be creative in using different designs to construct and decorate the toys.  But the main goal is to help children in the area to have a fun Christmas.  Working with the U.S. Marines and the Toys for Tots campaign is very rewarding for us." Joining Mr. Mullis on "Santa's Squad" are Paul Bagley, Dave Callahan, John Chasse, Don Cosner, Don Gash, Charles Mason, Bill Minton and Jim Phelps. The mission of the U. S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program is to collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year, and distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to needy children in the community in which the campaign is conducted.  For more information, please visit www.toysfortots.org. To view "Santa's Squad" at Charlestown, click here.  To see one of their designs, click here. About Charlestown: Charlestown, managed and developed by Erickson Living, is a retirement community that provides worry-free living for America's seniors-the country's fastest growing population segment.  Erickson Living's financial value and predictable monthly service fees provide residents across the country financial peace of mind.  Comprehensive health and wellness services, integrated into our continuum of care, lead to demonstrated resident benefits.  A robust complement of resident programs and facilities promote an engaged, fulfilling lifestyle that is reflected in resident satisfaction levels that exceed the industry average.  For more information, please visit www.ericksonliving.com.