The Toys for Tots collection boxes at The Willcox were filling up fast Monday as people stopped in to donate, to see Santa and Mrs. Claus and to enjoy hot chocolate and cookies.
This is the third year the historic Aiken hotel has hosted the U.S. Marine Corps. Reserve's Toys for Tots celebration, a “great organization,” according to The Willcox co-owner Geoff Ellis.
“They're just fabulous. Last year, we had two rooms full of gifts. Really, for us, with the kids running around, it's a festive celebration,” he said.
Santa and Mrs. Claus happily greeted young children, and photographer Todd Lista was on hand to take pictures of children with the jolly couple. Lista donated his services for the Toys for Tots campaign.
Joe Featherston with the James L. Hammons Marine Corps League Detachment No. 939 said about 146 boxes were deployed into the community to collect new, unwrapped toys.
Several corporations and neighborhoods, like SRS and Cedar Creek, collected several thousand toys to support the campaign.
Barbara Roberts and her two children donated two toys at The Willcox on Monday. This is the second year they celebrated at the hotel.
“We came back because it was just really charming with the hot chocolate. Plus, you donate to a good cause,” Roberts said.
Her son Mike is pretty sure he is on Santa's nice list this year. In fact, Santa told him so in a video.
“Because I did good on the football team and did well in school,” he said.