By Alison James
Associate Editor

Toys are often the hope and dream of children on Christmas morning. For years, United States Marines have made those hopes and dreams come true for needy children, and the Auburn Opelika Running and Track Association is doing its part to help with the annual Toys for Tots Races.
“The club itself is very community-oriented – every race we do is for a cause,” explained  Monica Kennis, race director.
Kennis said the race’s best turnout was in 2012, when the organization donated more than 400 toys and $2,500.
“You get a great sense of satisfaction,” Kennis said. “You just say, ‘Wow, we did this.’”
This year’s races will be held Dec. 6, beginning and ending at Auburn High School, with the 5K and 10K starting at 7:30 a.m. and the fun run at 9 a.m.
“Last year we had two Marines come at the finish line, and they’re going to be here again this year, so they are out there cheering everyone on as they come across the finish line,” Kennis said.
Registration fee for the event includes a toy donation. All donations go to the nearest distribution center in Montgomery, from which they will be given out throughout the season to needy families. Kennis said all kinds of toys are welcomed. Runners should plan to bring their new, unwrapped toys with them on race day.
Pre-registration is open until Nov. 22 online. All pre-registrants are guaranteed a T-shirt. Day-of registration will begin at 6:30 a.m.
Pre-registration for the Dec. 6 race – at a cost of $20 for the 5K and 10K races and $10 for the one-mile fun run – is available at Or, checks can be made payable to AORTA and mailed with entry form to: AORTA-Toys for Tots Races, c/o Monica Kennis, 3808 Hamilton Rd, Opelika, AL 36804. Mailed entries must be postmarked by Nov. 20.
For more information contact Monica Kennis at 737-1835 or email