Toy Drive Helps Relieve Burden At Christmas For Many

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Santa's helpers will be hard at work on December 14.

For those in our community who struggle year-round, the holiday season is an especially difficult time: they must balance basic needs with bringing the joy of Christmas to their children.

The goal of the 17th Annual Martinsville Speedway Toy Drive on December 14 is to lighten that load for as many parents as possible.

“How very sad and demoralizing it would be, as a mother, to know that you could not put even one package under the tree for your children. But when your priority must be to keep a roof over their heads, the lights on, and food on the table, Christmas presents are a luxury you cannot afford” said Donna Minnix Proctor, Executive Director of Grace Network of Martinsville and Henry County, the organization which receives and distributes toys from the speedway’s toy drive.

Proctor and the many volunteers of the Grace Network understand the problems facing so many families in the Martinsville Henry County area. Since July, the Grace Network, an organization of more than 100 churches in the area, has given $234,917 in assistance to 1,064 households with 2,133 members. Thirty-four of those families assisted were at risk of homelessness, nine were temporarily homeless and 48 were living with family members. Two-hundred and seventy-six of the households assisted had two or more children.

“We know that so many families in our area are still facing very difficult times. We know that the Christmas season can be a very bleak time for them, but this is an opportunity for all of us to help,” said Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell, adding that every toy, every dollar collected will remain in the Martinsville and Henry County area.

This year’s Martinsville Speedway Toy Drive, which has raised more than 25,000 toys the past 16 years, is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on December 14 in the infield of Martinsville Speedway.

And while raising toys is the goal of the day, it will be a fun day of helping others.

For the second year fans will be able to take laps around the historic oval with Campbell in a real Sprint Cup car. They will be dressed in full racing gear, fire suit, helmet and HANS Device, for their ride with Campbell, an established driver in several NASCAR divisions. Cost for the ride-along is a $50 donation to the toy drive.

Those donating a toy or making a $10 donation will again be able to drive their personal vehicles around the track. Pace cars will lead the personal vehicles around the track.

The Martinsville Speedway staff will again stay busy in the infield concession stand making and serving The Famous Martinsville Speedway Hot Dog™. Hot dogs and Pepsi products are $1 each, with proceeds going toward purchasing toys.

Santa Claus will be making his annual appearance at the track at noon.

Anyone who would like to donate a toy, but cannot make it to the toy drive, can drop them off at the Martinsville Speedway ticket office Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monetary donations can also be dropped off at the Martinsville Speedway ticket office. All checks should be made out to the Grace Network. All monies raised will be used to buy additional toys.

The day will begin with the Girls on the Run 5K. Entry fee is $25 or $35 for stroller runners. Entry fee increases to $30 and $45  on November 30. Entry forms may be picked up at the YMCA of Martinsville and Henry County. Proceeds will go to Girls on the Run of Martinsville and Henry County.

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