(From left): Rising Queens Co-Founder Nikita Pittman, Merrill Elementary School Principal Brandeye Hereford and Rising Queens Founder Tracy Dumas gather for a photo. Merrill Elementary School will be the site where families pick up gifts from the Marine Corps Toys for Tots Drive this year.

BELOIT—The Rising Queens, official coordinators for the Marine Corps Toys for Tots Drive for all kids in Rock County, are partnering with Merrill Elementary School for the kickoff event on Oct. 2 and the toy pickup day set for Dec. 11.

The toy pickup event will take place at the school from 8 a.m. to noon. From Oct. 1-16 families sign up for the toys at

“It’s right here in the heart of the city, I’m just loving it,” said Rising Queens Co-founder Tracy Dumas.

“The Rising Queens have done a lot in the neighborhood,” said Merrill Principal Brandeye Hereford. “We want to partner with them.”

Hereford noted the Rising Queens offered a free laundry services day for families and the group has been supporting the PTO at the school. The Rising Queens are also in discussions with those at Merrill to offer more resources and activities for families.

Rising Queens Founder Tracy Dumas and Co-Founder Nikita Pittman said the kickoff event is set for Oct. 2. It will include a motorcycle parade kicking off at Jones Pavilion in Riverside Park. Bikers will line up at 2:30 p.m. and arrive at Merrill Elementary by 3 p.m. where festivities such as bounce houses and hot dogs for kids will continue until 6 p.m. Those who wish to drop off toys can visit the Merrill site from 3-6 p.m. and deliver a new and unwrapped toy for a 0-18- year-olds

The toy drive event is hosted by Rising Queens and sponsored by Community Action, Inc.

“So many people in this community have amazing ideas and want to provide diverse opportunities and healthy alternatives for our youth. So many people are looking for ways to offer a hand up for those in need. Partnerships between established institutions and emerging organizations allow us to meet the needs of many more people and stay better connected to our community. We are very excited to collaborate with Rising Queens and other emerging organizations, so that everyone that wants to enhance and empower our community has the access and the opportunity to do so,” Community Action Inc. Executive Director Marc Perry said.

Dumas noted Perry is providing five boxes of brand new gym shoes to dispense at the event, and Mrs. Beloit Shatoria Teague is also working to round up toys as well as bikers for the parade.

For more information people can visit