Every year in November, people from across the Kingdom of Calontir travel to the shire of Wyvern Cliffe, based in Jefferson City, MO, for the annual Toys for Tots Tournament. The event began, as best anyone can recall, in 1989, and it has been held in October or, more commonly, November every year since. In the beginning, the event consisted of an armored combat tourney with perhaps twenty-odd fighters. The entry fee for the tourney was the donation of a toy for the Marine Corps Toys for Tots drive. Nobody remembers exactly how many toys were collected that first year, but it certainly wasn’t as many as are collected nowadays–one or two garbage bags full, and the group considered it a success.
The most recent Toys for Tots Tourney held on November 16, 2019, collected 2,168 toys, plus enough monetary donations to purchase over 100 more toys. And that isn’t the highest total ever. Last year the total number of toys collected exceeded 3,000. The entry fee for each of the four tournaments held, as well as for any other competitions, is a new, unwrapped toy. However, even given the size of the tourneys, the armored Toys for Tots tournament is typically the largest one held all year on Calontir soil, averaging 70 or more fighters, the number of toys collected is immense. Most of the populace brings at least one or two toys, and many people try to outdo each other on the numbers of toys they bring, with several people regularly donating 100 or more. Sometimes formal or informal competitions for the most number of toys are sponsored by individuals. One year the Crown challenged everyone to bring in at least one toy for each award they had, which created a bit of a dilemma for those who received awards in court that evening!
About three years ago, the storage unit where the local chapter stores their toys was broken into over the summer, and $10,000 worth of toys stolen. The kingdom worked really hard that year to try and make up the loss and succeeded. We were told that we had replaced the loss, and then some, with our benefit event.
The Marine Corps in the Jefferson City area has for several years recognized the efforts of the SCA, the Kingdom of Calontir, and the Shire of Wyvern Cliffe in donating toys to their toy drive. They receive so many toys from the SCA in the area that they regularly send toys to other areas of the state and the country that don’t receive as many donations. This year they presented the Crown of Calontir with a very special award–a beetle hammer which has been part of Marine Corps ceremonies for over 60 years. This was the 31st Toys for Tots Tournament held here, and the kingdom hopes and expects that there will be many more to come.
Story by Lis Schraer
Photographs by Johann Steinarsson, Scott Pasley and Alice L Shockley
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