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Partnering To Help Toys for Tots

Santa's getting some extra help, this year, from a local business owner and Cub Run Elementary. They're partnering together to collect toys for the Marine Corp's Toys for Tots program.

Greg and Christina Caldwell have two sons, third-grader Logan and kindergartner Hayden, who attend Cub Run Elementary. They also own G & C Express Auto Service in Chantilly. Cub Run Principal Craig Metcalfe is a customer, and this is the business' fourth year as a Toys for Tots dropoff site.

"HE USUALLY gives the school's Toys for Tots donations to Costco, but it's not participating this year," explained Greg Caldwell. "So he asked if he could drop off Cub Run's toys here."

Caldwell said yes, but then took things a step further. "For every toy Cub Run collects, we'll match it, toy for toy," he said. "So if it collects 100 toys, we'll add 100 more."

Last Wednesday, Dec. 1, was the collection's official kickoff and — to start things off in a big way — Caldwell contributed a brand-new bicycle. And this Monday, Dec. 13, the school will begin its Toys for Tots drive.

People may either bring toy donations to the school or to Caldwell's business at 14008 Willard Road, near the Walney/Willard roads intersection, Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m., and Saturday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Toys should be new and unwrapped, and the collection will continue through Dec. 20.

The Caldwells started their business together, seven years ago. G & C does general auto repair, sells tires and performs state inspections and emissions tests. And the Caldwells believe in helping others.

"Last year, we collected 50 toys," said Greg Caldwell. "This year, because of advertising and our association with Cub Run, I'm expecting more." So why Toys for Tots?

"I'M A former Marine," he said. "And as a small-business owner, I take pride in being able to do something for the community."

Metcalfe said his school always collects for Toys for Tots, but this is its first year joining forces with G & C in the effort. Regarding Caldwell, he said, "That is absolutely wonderful to have someone in the community step up and be involved to help the needy in the area."

"People think Toys for Tots is only for little kids, but it's also for teens," said Metcalfe. So he urged contributors to remember the older boys and girls with presents, too. "We sent a flyer home, Dec. 1, telling parents about the program," he said. "But donations are voluntary."

Actually, he said, Cub Run students collect items for those in need, throughout the year, as part of their SCA activities. Said Metcalfe: "Kids are always wondering what they can do for society, and this is one way they can help — by giving something."

For example, in January, students will collect hats, coats and scarves for Western Fairfax Christian Ministries (WFCM). In February, they'll collect duffel bags and stuffed toys for homeless children. That way, said Metcalfe, "Kids who move from place to place can have something to carry their belongings in and a toy to take with them."