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Giving back: Daisy Mountain Veterans holding toy drive for local families in need


Elizabeth Medora

ANTHEM – For families who are struggling to get by, Christmas can be a difficult time of year. Daisy Mountain Veterans is teaming up with local schools to help make sure every local child has the chance to get a Christmas present this year.

Eight local DVUSD schools are participating, including Anthem School, Boulder Creek High School, Canyon Springs School, Desert Mountain School, Diamond Canyon School, Gavilan Peak School, and New River Elementary. Keeping confidentiality for the families involved is vital to the project – everyone needs help at some point, but it can be extremely difficult to ask for it. This toy drive aims to keep everything private and put the focus on bringing joy to a child’s Christmas.

“I appreciate the confidentiality that will take place regarding the assistance to families. Families will be nominated and contacted by their local DVUSD principal,” explained Tara LeCount, principal of Diamond Canyon School.

Families who want to participate can let their school know they’d like to be placed on a confidential list to receive a time to shop.

“From there, families will be given a time for them to shop without anyone else present, except a volunteer Veteran to check them into to the shop. The shopping hours are flexible so will meet the needs of the families," said LeCount.

The Daisy Mountain Veterans will have volunteers staffing a toy shop at the Anthem Civic Building on specific dates and times, and families on the list will be assigned one shopping time per family to choose from the donated toys available for their kids. The program is set up to provide confidentiality and ensure the dignity of the families; the volunteers may not get full names of the families involved, and each family will get a private shopping session.

Mary Ann Derryberry of the Daisy Mountain Veterans noted that the veterans group has done Christmas toy drives in the past but that this is the first specifically designed for local children.

“We thought we should do a toy drive and open it up for all the local kids,” Derryberry explained.

Many families in need reside in the north valley community, and this toy drive offers a way for parents to pick out Christmas gifts for their little ones when they can’t otherwise afford it. Derryberry noted that some families would have to choose between eating and buying a present, and she stressed that the volunteers of the Daisy Mountain Veterans want to keep that sad situation from happening.

“Nobody should have to wake up Christmas morning and have no presents from Santa,” Derryberry said.

Donations of new, unwrapped toys are warmly welcomed to help get the toy drive going. Children of all ages will be receiving the toys, and inexpensive, basic toy donations will work well for the drive. Donation bins are set up at several locations in Anthem, including the Community Center and Civic Building, PostNet, Harper Physical Therapy, OSR Physical Therapy, Justin Simons’ State Farm office, Nanette McClelland-Miller’s State Farm office, Walgreens, the North Valley Regional Library, the ReStore, and Country Club golf course clubhouses and fitness centers.

Toys are already being donated, and Derryberry says that the veterans group will offer as much as they can for the families who come in.

“We will stay open as long as we have toys,” Derryberry said.

Any toys remaining after the toy drive ends will be donated to the Daisy Mountain Firefighters Charities Association’s toy drive and to Phoenix Children’s Hospital, so every donated toy will be brightening a child’s day, no matter where the toys end up.

Principal LeCount helped “get the ball rolling” for the project, Derryberry said, and they and others from DVUSD worked to bring the idea to fruition.

“Mary Ann approached me about the idea and I immediately knew this was an excellent way to support families that are doing their best but may be having a difficult time to provide toys this holiday season,” LeCount said.” I quickly contacted my DVUSD colleagues in the area so we could spread the joy throughout our entire Anthem community.”

Both Derryberry and LeCount expressed gratitude at the support the community offers for projects like the toy drive.

“Daisy Mountain Veterans has had wonderful support from the community,” Derryberry said.

“I love working in such a giving community and am proud to raise my own children in this community,” LeCount emphasized.  

Toy donation bins are located in multiple Anthem locations. To ask about getting a donation bin at your business or for more information on the toy drive, contact Daisy Mountain Veterans at