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Las Cruces Toys for Tots kickoff event Oct. 1 at Mesilla Valley Mall


The Bumblebee Transformer (also known as local performer Manny Castorena) will be the special guest, noon-2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 1, as Marine Corps Reserves Toys for Tots of Las Cruces holds its first fundraiser of the 2022 holiday season.

The event will be held at concourse B of Mesilla Valley Mall, 700 S. Telshor Blvd., which is near the mall’s Cineport 10 entrance.

“This is a free, family-friendly event,” said Las Cruces Toys for Tots co-coordinator Patty Groth.

In addition to Bumblebee, the event will include special guests from E Mazing Characters of Las Cruces and El Perro Diablo Marine Corps League Detachment #478 of Las Cruces Color Guard.

Every child in attendance will have a chance to win a Barbie Dreamhouse or other toys, Groth said. There also will be free giveaways, including coloring books, and children and families will also be able to have photos taken with Bumblebee.

Children are encouraged to wear Halloween costumes to the event, she said.

The mall will have Christmas trees and other holiday decorations on display for the event, Groth said.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” Groth said.

Cash donations will be accepted at the event, along with donations of new, unwrapped toys. Groth said Toys for Tots particularly needs gifts for young teens, including makeup items for girls, soccer balls and board games.

The kickoff event is sponsored by Mesilla Valley Mall, E Mazing Characters and Rentals, Pat Campbell Insurance/Higginbotham, Rotary Club of Las Cruces, Citizens Bank of Las Cruces, Marine Corps League #478k, Century Bank, Jay and Lya Jordan and the Pickett Law Firm.

Each year, Toys for Tots of Las Cruces collects toys and gifts for children ages newborn to 14.

Last year, the organization collected and distributed more than 16,000 toys, books and stocking stuffers, she said. The gifts reached more than 5,400 children in Las Cruces and throughout Doña Ana County through Toys for Tots’ partnerships with Las Cruces Public Schools, Gadsden Independent School District and Hatch Valley Public Schools.

Headquartered in Triangle, Virginia, Toys for Tots is celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2022. It was founded by U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Major Bill Hendricks and his wife, Diane Hendricks, in Los Angeles in 1947.

Toys for Tots of Las Cruces was started in 1998 by the late Jack and Peggy Petrowsky. That first year, the Petrowskys provided toys to 65 Las Cruces children.

For more information, contact Groth at 575-202-6185, or Toys for Tots of Las Cruces co-coordinator U.S. Marine (ret.) Joe Montoya at 575-571-7728. Email las.cruces.nm@toysfortots.org. Visit http://las-cruces-nm.toysfortots.org/local-coordinator-sites/lco-sites/donate-toys.aspx and Las Cruces Toys for Tots on Facebook. Mail donations to Toys for Tots of Las Cruces, c/o Rotary Club of Las Cruces, P.O. Box 1912, Las Cruces, NM 88004.

Toys for Tots of Las Cruces