The eighth annual Toys for Tots charity golf tournament is Saturday, Dec. 11 at Palmbrook Country Club, 9350 W. Greeway Road.
There is an 8:30 a.m. shotgun start, and the cost is $55 plus a toy for donation. The price also includes a lunch. Participants should call 623-977-8333 to book a foursome.
Organizers Tim and Laura Greene, retired United States Marine Corps veterans, have been behind the event for the past several years.
Mrs. Greene moved to the West Valley in 2012 and learned her husband always participated in the Christmas Tree Angel program. For two years, he would pick an angel and purchase every item on the tree for a certain child.
After Christmas of 2013, he approached Mrs. Greene and said he wanted to do more but wasn’t sure how. That’s when they settled on Toys for Tots.
“I had hoped there would be a chapter here in Phoenix,” said Mrs. Greene, “so I did my research, and our Toys for Tots journey began.”
In 2014 and 2015, the Greenes received Toys for Tots boxes, placed them in the local bar, and invited others to join in. They did, and four boxes of toys were collected.
Soon after, they decided a golf tournament, followed by an after party, should also be part of the collection process.
Mr. Greene was already a member of the Palmbrook Country Club, so they booked a date at the venue and the initial turnout was more than they expected.
“The tournament sold out and the toys collected filled an entire Budget truck,” stated Mr. Greene.
The annual Toys for Tots golf tournament became something everyone looked forward to, something people wanted to be involved with, and something the Greenes knew was a way to make Christmas special for a lot of children.
While the tournament is held at Palmbrook, many local businesses request boxes so they can also collect toys. Abuelo’s in Peoria has collected toys for the past three years and has played a pivotal part in the door prize giveaways at the end of the tournament.
Toys for Tots drop-boxes are located at Palmbrook, as well as Abuelo’s, 16092 N. Arrowhead Fountains Center Drive, and Coops Bar & Grill, 8455 W. Peoria Ave.
“Once this tournament became so big and sold out every year, we decided we wanted to give back to everyone who supports us on this journey,” stated Mrs. Greene. “Every year, I put together swag bags filled with Toys for Tots memorabilia and other donated swag. A bag is placed on every seat of every golf car prior to the start of the tournament.”
There is also a raffle at the end of the tournament, with all proceeds going directly to the Marines at Luke AFB/Toys for Tots.
“I believe 2018 is when we started to think about involving the Marines even more,” stated Mr. Greene. “We contacted the Marine unit on Luke and requested a Color Guard for opening ceremonies. Not only did they approve, they asked if they could golf too. Every year since then, we’ve had the Marines do opening ceremonies to the National Anthem and Marines Hymn and right afterwards they changed and participated in the tournament.”
Mrs. Greene says it has gotten to the point where people ask about this event all year because they want to be involved in some way.
“It’s heartwarming,” she said.
They had the date selected for 2020 but then COVID hit, and the Greenes weren’t sure what was going to happen.
“It was also in our forefront that despite the guidelines, we knew this was the year more families would be struggling and needed help, especially during the holidays,” Mr. Greene added. “Adjustments were made, guidelines followed, and they still came.”
Ms. Greene says participants last year brought more bicycles than ever collected before. People brought more toys than a small Budget truck could hold, and they needed a large U-Haul.
“This was also the best year as far as door prizes and proceeds raised from those giveaways,” she said.
Call it a labor of love, but for Mr. Greene, “this event is all about the kids. We couldn’t do this every year without the help and support of the staff at Palmbrook Country Club, local businesses … and the help and support of not only all the golfers who participate every year, but those who donate swag, those who donate prizes, those who donate their time … and those who donate money and toys to make a child’s Christmas.”
This year is going to be a little different, however. States Mrs. Greene: “Last year we lost a father, a grandfather, a friend, my husband lost an MC brother, and we lost another Marine.”
Greg “Kong” Dilley was killed in a motorcycle accident Oct. 3, 2020. Being a Marine himself, he was also involved with Toys for Tots. Kong served in the Marine Corps from 1977-1998 and was an Arizona lobbyist for the Arizona Confederation of Motorcycle Clubs because he believed in the Constitution of America and wanted to be a voice for everyone who rode motorcycles.
“He was going to return to lobbying for veterans at the time of his death,” stated Mr. Greene. “Kong was larger than life and his death hit all of us hard.”
Earlier this year, Mrs. Greene said she and her husband decided they wanted to ask Kong’s adult daughter, Kati, to rename the tournament. She already asked if she could be involved, and they thought this was an amazing way to honor her dad by renaming the tournament. She chose the name “Kong for Kids” and asked if there could be a “King Kong” hanging from the Toys for Tots train on the flyer.
“So, even though this is our eighth year,” Mr. Greene concludes, “this is the first year that it’s not just about the kids … it’s about remembering a Marine who would have wanted it to still be just about the kids.”
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