Todd and Marina Turner want to keep helping local youth have happy holidays.

The couple pastor the 831 Church in McAlester and are preparing for another toy drive to benefit local children during the holiday season.

Watching as children’s faces light up while opening presents from the toy drive is a great feeling.

“It's awesome,” Todd Turner said. “The kids all sit way up in the front and they sit on the floor and they're just everywhere and it’s just awesome.”

Todd Turner said the couple started the church in the last decade after a boy in their neighbor knocked on their door and asked if they could feed him.

The non-denominational church has about 60 regular adult members and lives by “eight words, three letters, one meaning” — a reference to the phrase “I love you.”

This year marks the fourth for the toy drive, which last year provided happy holidays for 225 children, and has served Thanksgiving dinners for the last five years.

The Turners said the toy drive started small, but has grown each year and already has 125 children set to receive a gift this year with others in the application process.

Items needed for the drive include gloves, hats, candy sacks, stuffed animals and more asked by applicants from children ages 2 to 18.

A spending limit is set at $25 per child, but helping more than one child is welcomed.

“That's the way you do more,” Marina Turner said. “You can do three children instead of one. And we do it that way because we just want to keep it fair.”

Anyone interested in participating can contact the church at 918-424-7765. The McAlester News-Capital will serve as a toy drop-off location at the offices at 500 South Second Street.

Organizations and individuals with upcoming food drives, toy drives and other charitable events can contact the News-Capital at 918-423-1700 or

Contact Adrian O’Hanlon III at