Coordinator - GySgt Raymond Pelsh – Erie, PA
As the Toys for Tots Coordinator for the 2018 and 2019 campaigns, I was called about picking up some toys from a local business. The previous coordinator warned me to take a large vehicle because the owner usually had a massive number of toys. Not knowing exactly what to expect, I went with a large van and truck thinking that would be good enough. I could not have been more wrong! I met with the owner of TaraDoodles, Mrs. Tara Stonestreet, who operates an elaborate face painting business for parties and events, and is one of the nicest, most selfless people I think I have ever met. She lit up with joy when I witnessed her YEAR’S worth of dedication to her collection of toys for kids. I was impressed to see she had stored all the toys bought in her house with not an inch of space wasted. There was a large spare room in her basement filled with toys top to bottom, including most of her garage, 2 or 3 closets, and part of her children’s playroom. She then informed me that all the toys bought were for $5 or less. At this point my mind was officially blown. She told me that she had a bargain shopping addiction and wanted to put it to good use. With a quick call and some coordination, I arranged for one of our large tactical vehicles to come pick up the toys. After 3 FULL loads from the large truck, 2 from the 13-passenger van, and 2 large bed trucks, we finally managed to get all the toys back to our HTC. My fellow Marines were blown away from the number of toys a single person with a small business could donate. During the 2018 campaign alone she donated over 10,000 toys and even donated her time to a couple of our events. I was so grateful for the selfless donation from Mrs. Stonestreet to our local Toys for Tots campaign; and to my surprise, she explained that the toys she had were MORE toys than the previous year. With the amazing people I worked with during the 2018 season I wanted to do it again for this past season. The 2019 campaign she donated over 12,000 toys to the Erie County Campaign. This dedication and selflessness are a true testament of the great people who do great things throughout the nation. She is a behind the scenes local hero here in Erie PA and loves bringing joy to the world through a paint brush and further through her donations to great causes like Toys for Tots.