Groups check toys for lead

Jackie Ricciardi/Staff
Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Winder, the coordinator of the local Toys for Tots campaign, walks by stacks of donated toys that were checked for lead. The Salvation Army also checks lists of recalled toys and disposes of any contaminated items.

Thanks to organizations such as Toys for Tots and the Salvation Army, there will be plenty of toys to place under Christmas trees this holiday season.

And in the wake of the numerous toy recalls this year, parents can rest assured knowing that those toys are safe.

"We check the recall list daily, and we post the list in the warehouse that we use. Once a toy is picked up, it is checked to make sure that it's not on the recalls list. Those that are, we properly dispose of them," said Marine Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Winder, the coordinator of the local Toys for Tots campaign.

So far, only 25 of the nearly 11,000 toys donated have been disposed of.

"With most of the recalls being announced some time ago, most of the companies have already pulled the toys off the shelves to keep people from buying them. That has helped us," Staff Sgt. Winder said.

The Salvation Army, which receives many of its toys from the Toys for Tots campaign, is also taking precautions.

"Nationally, the Salvation Army is sending e-mails to inform local offices what to be on the lookout for," said Laurie Harmon, the assistant development director. "The person that is in charge of our toy shop has familiarized herself with the list, and once the toys are in, we will be checking them thoroughly."

As an extra safeguard, the Salvation Army has removed toys from its thrift stores.

"We want to protect the kids, so we are doing everything that we can," she said.

Those donating can also help, Staff Sgt. Winder said.

"The list is available to the public, so they can check it to make sure the toy isn't on the list before buying it," he said. "If they don't feel comfortable buying toys, they can write out a check to the Toys for Tots Foundation, and we will go out and buy the toys."

Monetary donations for the Toys for Tots campaign can be sent to 2869 Central Ave., Augusta, GA 30909.

Reach Nikasha Dicks at (706) 823-3336 or nikasha.dicks@augustachronicle.com.