Gulfport Church Group Fine Tunes Toys For Tots Distribution System

Toys for Tots elves in Gulfport tried their best to put Monday's troubles behind them. Toy distribution organizers from Victory Temple Worship Center think they learned from the mistakes they made Monday when people got impatient waiting for holiday gifts that weren't ready.

Despite their overnight planning, the confusion near a tent at Highway 49 and Martin Luther King Boulevard still existed. And Pastor Mattie Harper knew why.

"We've got 3,050 applicants that we're trying to serve," she said while filling another holiday toy request.

Around the pastor were people still grumbling about having to wait so long to pick up toys.

"We learn from our mistakes," said volunteer Stacy Crandle. "And today, we are moving."

On day two of the Toys for Tots giveaway, organizers seemed to work out the glitches that took a little of the joy out of volunteers' spirits. Cynthia Willis worked at a table where Toys for Toys signup sheets were sorted. She said that instead of focusing on how long it takes to get a donated gift, "people need to understand that when God is giving, they have to be patient."

Lakisha Durr learned that lesson while waiting two days to pick up toys for her five children.

"I'll be patient. It's the only thing I can do," the Gulfport woman said. "I'm grateful for what they do give us."

Another woman was appalled at the people who were complaining. She said the people getting gifts should be thankful that volunteers exist who put their lives on hold to help others.

Gulfport's Victory Temple Worship Center had never undertaken a program like this before. So organizers figured there'd be a few bumps along the way.

"We are here trying to help everybody," Crandle said. "We want to make sure all the families in the Mississippi Gulf Coast and Harrison and Hancock Counties get served."

Ray Evans became a volunteer. He grabbed boxes of food and carried them out to the people in line, so they could nibble on something while they waited.

"It just feels good. It just feels good," he repeated.

Crandle reminded people that the church mission in this Toys for Tots program was simple.

"We're going to make sure everybody out here gets Christmas for their children," she said.

The Victory Temple Worship Center Outreach Ministry is working with the Marine Corps on the Toys for Tots drive. Organizers are using tents along Highway 49 as their toy distribution headquarters. They expect the last toys to be handed out by Friday.