WILMINGTON — At the Board of Selectmen meeting on Nov. 22, the board approved a request from the Wilmington Memorial Library and received notification about the Toys for Tots program.
Library Director Christina Stewart and Youth Services Librarian Danielle Masterson explained the intent behind their request to put up a series of signs around Rotary Park. The “Story Walk” would guide visitors around the pond, supporting recreation and the use of walking trails along with literacy and awareness.
There would be 19 signs in total placed on the other side of the pond along the trail. All of the money for the project would be fundraised by the Friends of the Library.
Stewart said that they would change the story at least seasonally to keep it fresh and interesting. She also said that their plan would have to comply with the Conservation Commission and they’d be open to changes.
They then played a Youtube video promoting the “Story Walk,” a page-by-page interaction designed by the library. Masterson mentioned including some fiction and some nonfiction stories to promote school readiness and encouraging continued reading.
“This is another extension of phenomenal work the library does that we don’t hear enough about,” said Selectman Gary DePalma.
Judy O’Connell asked what kind of maintenance the signs would need. Stewart answered to clarify that the library would be responsible for damages and replacement, but they didn’t expect it to make a long-term financial impact.
She said that the signs are sturdy and weather-proof, with no electricity required. She didn’t have any concerns about the Friends of the Library being able to raise enough money for all of the signs and installation.
O’Connell also asked that Stewart have the police and fire chiefs review the plans, which she said she would. Town Manager Jeff Hull later mentioned that there were no concerns from the police chief.
Kevin Caira commented that this would be a great combination with the outdoor skating rink during the winter.
The board voted to approve the request.
Later, Hull shared a note from Public Works Director Mike Woods supporting the library’s new initiative.
After that, Frank West promoted this year’s Toys for Tots program. West has helped to co-coordinate the fundraising and toy donation program in Wilmington and Tewksbury for the past 25 years with his wife Karen West.
Marine Corps Sergeant Gerald Everett, who joined West for the presentation, gave some history about how the program was started. It was in 1946 after World War II when Army Major Hendrix asked for donations for orphaned kids before Christmas, and other army units started doing the same. The marines took it over in 1958.
Everett reported that the program collected toys for 33,000 kids last year and provided for even more from monetary donations.
West added that there were around 70 locations in Wilmington and Tewksbury for collections, including town halls, schools, and private businesses. He also said that folks could write a check out to Toys for Tots MA to provide toys for kids in the state.
Families in need this year were directed to the Department of Children and Families, the YMCA, or the Salvation Army to ask for help with Christmas presents.
The board thanked Everett for his service and West for his and his wife’s help in leading the program.
“Coming out of COVID, people out there are hurting,” said Caira. “You’re helping in a big way to make Christmas a little brighter.”
O’Connell said, “Christmas can be a stressful, difficult time, especially when people are struggling financially.”
They appreciated these efforts that bring joy amid tough times this year.
West then presented the board a plaque on behalf of the Marine Corps Toys for Tots.
Someone in the audience spoke up at that moment to mention that Boy Scouts troops would be collecting for Toys for Tots on Nov. 30 outside of Target. There were a number of Boy Scouts present in the audience. Greg Bendel made a point to recognize the boys from Troop 120, and in announcements the board thanked them for coming.
Everett also told the scouts that the Tewksbury Toys for Tots warehouse would be happy to provide them with volunteer hours if they needed to spend time toward their Eagle Scout badges.
West expressed gratitude for everyone in Wilmington who donates and ended by saying that charities help to make the world a better place.
The next Board of Selectmen regular meeting will be on Monday, Dec. 13 at 7 p.m.