While area families are busy stocking up on candy and buying costumes for Halloween, one local organization is planning for Christmas.

The Stephenville Optimist Club is already preparing for one of its biggest projects of the year - Toys for Tots. Last year, optimists purchased and distributed toys to about 400 kids in December.

“The Optimist Club is dedicated to the youth,” said Optimist member Charles Finegan. “There are a lot of kids we are able to reach throughout the year. Toys for Tots gives us an opportunity to connect with those children and youth we might not otherwise reach.”

To begin raising money for the annual event, the group is planning its Toys for Tots golf tournament. This year’s event will begin with a shotgun start at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 31, at Legends Country Club. The four-person scramble is $50 per person and includes greens fee, cart and hamburger lunch. 

Hole sponsorships are available for $100.

Last year the tournament raised more than $3,000, approximately 1/3 of the Toys for Tots budget. The group hopes to raise the same - or more - this year.

While the group spends months raising money, the fun really begins the first week of December when optimists gather at Wal-Mart early one morning to purchase the toys. 

“We spend about $25 on each child and last year we purchased toys for about 400 children in Erath County,” Finegan said.

Baskets of toys are then taken to a single location where they are divided into groups and distributed to the families.

From there, the holiday fun begins, spurred on by the spirit of giving from men and women who have made the area’s youth their No. 1 priority.

“When somebody gives to the Optimist Club, they are giving to the youth of our community,” Finegan said.

For more information on the golf tournament, call Finegan at 445-4007.