Although people may not have carved their pumpkins yet, the Marine Corps League is already thinking about Christmas.
The league kicked off the 2012 Toys for Tots campaign on Tuesday at a storefront in the Hannaford Plaza on Altamont Avenue, which will serve as the new headquarters.
“I get so thrilled when this time of year comes,” said Toys for Tots coordinator Bob Becker. “I see these kids get toys and it makes me feel so happy and makes them feel happy.”
This year’s goal is to collect about 150,000 toys, according to Becker.
“That will take care of roughly 100,000 kids,” he said. “The public has got to help us. They’ve got to buy the toys or they can contribute and we buy the toys.”
There will be 400 drop-off locations throughout the Capital Region, including more than 100 Dunkin’ Donuts and participating Hannaford supermarkets.
Becker said toys are needed in particular for children ages 8 to 12, which is typically the toughest age of children for whom to buy.
The Marine Corps League, a volunteer association made up of enlisted and retired Marines, has a new headquarters for the Toys for Tots campaign because it is taking over oversight of the program from the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. Because of this change, the league no longer could use its previous headquarters at the Marine Corps Reserve base in Glenville to store the thousand of toys collected during the toy drive.
Hannaford officials contacted the developer of the plaza, Nigro Companies, to find new space for the league. The real estate company is providing the 4,600-square-foot space to the league free of charge for the duration of the campaign.
“We were honored to be asked by Hannaford to assist in this most worthy cause,” said Steven Powers, vice president of Nigro Companies, in a press release.
Hannaford will donate a tractor-trailer, which will be stationed behind the headquarters, to serve as overflow storage for the Toys for Tots program.
Dunkin’ Donuts is also providing a $30,000 donation, which will bring the total amount of money the company has contributed in the past four years to $110,000. These funds will help fill the Toys for Tots program’s holiday toy train with toys and coats. The coats will be collected and distributed through the South Colonie Central School District. The Canadian Pacific train will travel across 12 communities throughout upstate New York on Dec. 8 and Dec. 9.
Other sponsors are Friehofer’s, Keeler Motor Car Co, Sondra’s Fine Jewelry and Wal-Mart, which for the second year in a row will donate $20,000 to the charitable program.
People who want to contribute money can send checks to the Marine Corps League Toys for Tots, PO Box 3456, Schenectady, NY 12303.
Becker hoped as many people would donate as possible.
“Help us make Christmas for someone that would not have a Christmas,” he said.