Towne Salute: Lisa Napoli of Toys for Tots
Jan 16, 2017 11:57AM ● Published by Cate Reynolds
Although she’s moved multiple times, Lisa Napoli has found home on the Eastern Shore along with her husband in Grasonville. A longtime volunteer for different organizations, Napoli has been with Toys for Tots since Christmas 2009 and, judging by her excitement while talking about it, she loves it…all year long.
Napoli has been very involved with Toys for Tots for the last eight years. The region she’s involved with—the Northeastern Shore Campaign—handles Queen Anne’s County, Talbot County, Kent County, Caroline County, and Dorchester County. Napoli serves on the regional committee, as well as travels to Kent Island, Grasonville, and Queenstown to deliver donation boxes to various merchants, and then pick up toys from those same merchants when those boxes are full. Often, she’ll make multiple trips to one location, as the boxes tend to fill up quickly with toys!
“Without them, we couldn’t do it,” Napoli says graciously about the merchants who participate and support Toys for Tots.
Napoli explained that the volunteers are very collaborative at the Toys for Tots in the Northeastern Shore region, and everybody does a little bit of everything all year round to make the effort a success. However, because Napoli takes care of Kent Island, her list is generally a little bit bigger because there are a lot of merchants, offices, and restaurants that participate from that area each season. “Each of the volunteers handles their territory a little differently. I call my merchants. I start making those calls in October,” she explains.
Toys for Tots began as a national organization in 1948, and was founded by Major Bill Hendricks of the United States Marine Corps Reserve and his wife, Diane. In 1959, the program became an international organization. According to the Toys for Tots website, its mission is to gather new, unwrapped toys and distribute them as Christmas gifts to children in the community who are less-fortunate.
To Napoli, the organization has an even deeper meaning to her.
“My mother was in the Marines. She was in the Marines during World War II. She was one of the first female Marines. I had heard this all my life, but it wasn’t until I was older when it really struck me, ‘My mom was a Marine!’” She laughs. “I kind of got really…I guess nostalgic is the word when I realized, ‘Hey! The Marine Corps Reserve, my mom was a Marine!’ This is the perfect thing to be involved in!”
One of Napoli’s proudest accomplishments with Toys for Tots, however, is her involvement with the Annual Bull & Oyster Roast that takes place every April in Centreville at the American Legion.
Napoli’s biggest contribution was starting the silent auction in 2011, just a year after the Annual Bull & Oyster Roast began. She drives all over the Eastern Shore, from Oxford to St. Michaels to Rock Hall and all of Kent Island in order to collect donations for the silent auction in which 100 percent of proceeds benefit Toys for Tots. She then organizes the collection and creates various baskets to auction off, which is a big hit.
“People are contacting us in January saying, ‘When are you starting the sale of the Bull & Oyster Roast tickets?’ People love it. We have a lot of fun.” Napoli smiles. People love it so much, in fact, that tickets are sold out in mid-February after going on sale in January. Her hard work has surely paid off.
“I just really fell in love with Toys for Tots,” Napoli smiles fondly. “It’s a lot of hard work and a lot of gratification.”
For more information on Toys for Tots, visit toysfortots.org.