Tatum’s at it again, this time with Toys for Tots

By Kevin Spradlin

* Tatum’s community Facebook page

HAMLET — Jennifer Rhyne realizes it might not be much longer before her daughter Tatum, who turns 9 on Aug. 31, ends her annual birthday drive with a goal of helping others.

Tatum Rhyne

Tatum Rhyne

After all, Rhyne said, at some point it just might not be cool anymore to help others. But with a little help from her friends, Tatum has at least one more year with the spirit. Last year, Tatum’s sales pitch generated $13,726 for Habitat for Humanity.

This year, Tatum said her goal is to help collect toys for friend Drew Carpenter. Drew, 10, of Hamlet, spends time leading up to Christmas in front of his Poplar Street home giving away hot chocolate while accepting donations for Toys for Tots.

Tatum, of Ellerbe, saw her friend Drew last year and decided she’d like to do more than donate.

“I wanted to help him,” Tatum said Tuesday while standing outside Mabry’s Drug Store, one of two collection points in Richmond County. The other is The Berry Patch in Ellerbe. Both locations have cardboard boxes able to hold new, unwrapped toys that will be distributed near Christmas to those less fortunate. The boxes will be on display to collect donations from the community through the end of the month.

Tatum understands that the toys are “donated to kids that don’t have toys.” She might not understand the socioeconomics at play, but she certainly gets the gist — find a need, fill a need.


“‘Cause I really like helping other kids,” she said.

And with Drew’s help, helping others might remain cool one more year.

“I dont’ ever want Drew to stop giving,” said Chris Carpenter, Drew’s dad.

Drew Carpenter

Drew Carpenter

Rhyne said she worked with Drew’s mother. The two children became friends but see each other only a couple times a year.

Asked the root cause of her success, Tatum is blunt.

“I have no clue,” said the incoming fourth-grader at Mineral Springs Elementary School. “I asked people on my (Facebook) page.”

Rhyne said it’s about paying it forward.

“Last year she made a huge impression,” Rhyne said of Tatum’s efforts, which inspired friends to begin collecting Bibles and non-perishable food items for the benefit of others.

Rhyne said Tatum seems to gain energy off of learning of others’ efforts to help. Tatum, in turn, ups her game. Tatum still gets a birthday party, but the celebration can be more easily enjoyed knowing that others are being helped in the process.


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