Toy donations bring joy to Newshound, kids

DOVER — It was good to see Newshound out and about last weekend.

Pandemic restrictions and cancellations have kept Newshound on a short leash this year.

But she didn’t want to miss out on one of her favorite annual events – a Toys for Tots collection event.

Last Sunday, she was at the Dover YMCA on State Street thanking the scores of people who dropped off gifts for children.

As always, Newshound was in the Christmas spirit, wearing a Santa hat.

Across her face, she donned a cool Delaware State News-inspired face mask.

“It was a three-ply comic paper mask with special ink,” said Toni Hewes, the voice and soul of the newspaper’s best friend.

Newshound’s heart was filled with joy after hearing many of the donors had read about the event in the Delaware State News.

Toni and her husband, Jimmy, along with Newshound and a few other friends were able to fill the cabs and beds of two pickup trucks at the end of the day.

“We were very much surprised,” she said. “During this very challenging time, we were definitely overjoyed at how many children will be able to have a fun Christmas morning.”

In affiliation with Flying Dragons Taekwon-Do in Smyrna, the Hewes have been taking part in U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots drives for 26 years.

Newshound watched and helped unload all sorts of fun stuff for kids. There were three bicycles, remote control cars, dolls, puzzles and more.

“It has been worthwhile,” she said.

They filled 10 of the big Toys for Toys boxes Sunday and picked up three more at other locations.

Mrs. Hewes said all of the toys collected will go to families in Kent County.

Newshound, sporting a mask fashioned out of the Sunday funnies, welcomed a chance to see friends at the Toys for Tots collection Sunday at the Dover YMCA.


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In addition to what the Hewes collected Sunday, there was another huge effort concluding in Little Creek.

Motorcycle riders rolled in with 583 toys.

John and Melissa Cornwell, of A to Z Cycles of Dover, led that effort, which included a fund drive that netted more than $6,300.

Dennis Sipple, Kent County coordinator for Toys for Tots, said collections and distribution have been going very well.

He and his wife, Holly, have been involved in the coordination effort for 22 years now.

“We’ve got a lot of volunteers and we couldn’t do this without them,” Mr. Sipple said.

It’s too early to get a count on the children and number of toys. But it’ll be in the area of last year’s numbers: 3,437 children supported and 11,391 toys distributed.

“We’re going to be all right,” said Mr. Sipple. “It was hard work. But we made it happen.”


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Among those volunteering in the area’s Toys for Tots cause is Lafayette Bell, also known as Sgt. Bell the Rapper.

You may have noticed his name on some Downstate billboards, including one with teen singer Sara Brand of Felton.

The national Toys for Tots promotional material now includes a jingle by Miss Brand, recorded by Sgt. Bell at Diamond State Records.

It is based on a rap song that Sgt. Bell recorded for Toys for Tots many years ago.

Sgt. Bell, a former Marine Corps Reservist, has been promoting Toys for Tots and assisting since he was first introduced to it in the 1990s.

Sgt. Bell said one of his objectives with the music and messaging is to get more young people and minorities interested in helping with Toys for Tots.

“Growing up poor, I know what it’s like to be without,” he said.

Andrew West is executive editor of the Delaware State News.