'Tinks for Tots' parking lot party gathers 285 toys for needy Manatee kids

rdymond@bradenton.comDecember 3, 2012 

MANATEE -- The late Eddie "Tink" Crawford, a longtime tavern owner in Manatee County, would have been proud Sunday, friends and family said.

The bar named for him at 3102 53rd Ave. E., just east of U.S. 301, threw a parking lot party to provide Christmas gifts for needy Manatee County youth and came away with 285 new toys.

Tink's Lounge has now been owned for 22 years by Crawford's son, Steven, and daughter-in-law, Kelly Crawford,

For the third straight year, Tink's applied for an alcohol permit extension to the state and Manatee County to allow legal drinking in the parking lot just north of its building in the event the Crawfords like to call "Tink's for Tots."

Cash donations were roughly $6,500, the Crawfords said.

"It doesn't matter if we made $10 or $100,000, it's all about kids having a better Christmas than they would have," Kelly Crawford said. "We're going to do it next year for the same reason."

All the money and toys go to the Manatee County Chapter of the Marine Corps Reserve's Toys for Tots campaign, the Crawfords said.

The first 200 who brought in a new and unwrapped toy Sunday received a plate of Woody's Bar-B-Q with side dishes. A poker run for local motorcycle enthusiasts, which filled Tink's front lot with bikes, and a prize drawing also added to the number of toy and cash donations, said Mike McClain, Manatee County coordinator for Toys for Tots.

"On Saturday we got 1,000 toys during the U.S. postal drive we just had and now we come back with this great Sunday at Tink's," said McClain who worked with his co-coordinator, Larry Hample, along with 225 volunteers to collect 35,000 toys for needy Manatee kids last year. "Steve and Kelly have a

big heart for children."

The Crawfords spent $1,000 out of their own pockets to feed the crowd and to pay the state and county for their alcohol permit extension.

"I couldn't believe it, when the extension came back from Tallahassee, there was a purple Post-it note attached to the permit and the note said, 'Good luck!' with a happy face," Kelly Crawford said. "It gives me faith that the state has a heart."

Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be contacted at 941-748-0411, ext. 6686, or tweet @RichardDymond.

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