CLEVELAND, Ohio - A heartfelt thank you to Fox 8 viewers and advertisers for stepping up and donating to a very special Toys For Tots drive at our studios on Dick Goddard Way.
He’s a Marine Corp Veteran and reluctant celebrity; after a picture of him standing outside of a local store went wildly viral.
Corporal John Harkness was collecting for Toys For Tots in miserable weather, at a location he’s gone to for years, but this time the store manager said their policy didn’t permit the Marine to stand indoors.
After the picture was posted on social media sites; people and news outlets from across the country overwhelmed the NE Ohio family man who served with the Marines for 4 years in the late 1960s.
“When they say something goes viral, I knew what it meant, but I wasn’t aware of the total impact,” said Cpl. Harkness.
A powerful force that turned positive; with Fox 8 News teaming up with Cpl. Harkness and Toys For Tots.
The one day drive started at 6 a.m. on Dick Goddard Way and continued until 7 p.m.; with Cpl. Harkness and several other Marines “squared away” in their dress uniforms, graciously collecting all of the contributions.
Everyone who stopped by said they were inspired to give by Cpl. Harkness’s story.
“I’m 30-year veteran and when I .saw him on TV being treated my heart felt in my chest,” said Vietnam Veteran John Moore.
Fox 8 advertisers also brought checks.
Kathleen Zampounis with Corrective Eye Centers and Neil Stallard with Reserves Network both presented substantial checks to Toys For Tots.
The cash total for the day was $9,543.25; with at least a hundred dollars or more in toys also donated.
The money will be used to purchase brand new toys for kids across Medina and Cuyahoga counties.
Sgt Christopher Westbrook, Cuyahoga County Toys For Tots Coordinator says families in need can still sign up to receive the toys by registering with local non-profit organizations and churches.
“That non-profit organization in turn will request toys through us and we will fulfill that request.”
The Marines say over 13 million children are living in poverty across the nation. They hope that by getting a new toy each child will know that people care.
“Because of this fantastic response,” said Cpl Harkness, “It’s going to be a very good ending.”
Click here for information on donating to Toys For Tots.