NORWICH – The organizers of the local Toys for Tots campaign hope area residents will add an extra item or two to their holiday shopping list this year to help ensure that all children in Chenango County have presents to open on Christmas morning.
“It’s all about helping out the children, so they can have a Christmas when otherwise they might not,” explained Gail Lawrence, whose employer, The Label Gallery, coordinates the local collection effort.
The local program, which is affiliated with the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program, strives to provide new, unwrapped toys for needy children throughout Chenango County.
“It’s a joint effort,” said Lawrence, explaining that the Label Gallery works closely with both Roots and Wings and South New Berlin Postmaster Roger Barnhart, a former Marine Reservist, in coordinating the local drive.
According to Lawrence, Toys for Tots was able to deliver a total of 5,534 toys to 1,651 local children last year thanks to the generosity of Chenango County residents. She and the other organizers believe the need will be even greater this Christmas.
“People are struggling this year,” explained Roots and Wings Director Melinda Mandeville, who oversees the sorting and distribution of toys collected through the program. Families began signing up on Nov. 2, she said, in order to receive toys for their children this holiday. Her organization will continue to take names until Dec. 18.
This year, Toys for Tots will be headquartered at 19 South Broad Street in Norwich, where the Salvation Army Thrift Store was formerly located.
According to Mandeville, the organization tries to give each child multiple gifts, including a book, a couple of toys and a stuffed animal.
To fill the need, Toys for Tots will be collecting new, unwrapped toys appropriate for children 12 and under from now until Dec. 16 at more than 30 drop-off locations throughout the county. According to Lawrence, the items that are collected locally are distributed locally as well.
“The toys stay in Chenango County,” she reported.
Financial contributions, which are used to purchase additional toys, are also welcome, she said. Checks made payable to Toys for Tots can be sent directly to The Label Gallery, 1-11 Lee Ave., Norwich, NY 13815.
Volunteers are also needed to sort toys, Mandeville said. Anyone interested should contact her at 336-7897.
For more information on Toys for Tots, contact The Label Gallery at 334-3244 or Roots and Wings at 336-7897.
Toys for Tots Dropoff locations
Toys for Tots collection boxes have been placed in the following locations...