It's time for 'Toys for Tots' again

By Lori O'Brien

Correspondent



With only a month to go to collect thousands of new toys for children across Western Massachusetts, the local U.S. Marines Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program is in full swing.

There are a dozen active duty Marines working on the Toys for Tots endeavor in the region, along with several reserve Marines volunteering to help out, according to Sgt. Paul M. McCawley Jr., coordinator of this year's Toys for Tots program in Western Massachusetts.

As coordinator, McCawley is responsible for planning, organizing and conducting the campaign in the region, along with Sgt. Michael C. Singles, who is serving as assistant coordinator.

Of course, their ultimate success depends on the support of the local community and the generosity of the people who donate toys.

McCawley noted during an interview with Reminder Publications that the Marines collected approximately 60,000 toys in 2005 and distributed them to more than 20,000 children in the area.

"Our goal this year is to continue to improve on those numbers," he said.

The primary goal of the Marines Toys for Tots program is to deliver, through a shiny new toy at Christmas, a message of hope to needy youngsters that will motivate them to grow into responsible, productive, patriotic citizens and community leaders.

The deadline to drop off toys during the holiday season is Dec. 19.

"Area residents should support this program, not only because it is a tremendous cause, but all of what the residents donate stays in the Western Massachusetts area," added McCawley.

Area Toys for Tots drop off locations include: Big Lots, 303 East Main St., Westfield; Big Lots, 390 Cooley St., Springfield; Country Estates of Agawam, 1200 Suffield St., Agawam; Westover BX, 291 Hercules Road, Chicopee; Eastfield Mall, 1655 Boston Road, Springfield; Toys R Us, 1689 Boston Road, Springfield; Exotic Image Tanning, 48 Walnut St., Chicopee, and Southern Sunsation, 711 James St., Chicopee.

"The Marine Corps League has a number of people who help us out from year to year," said McCawley, adding "they help us pick up toys and bring them to the warehouse, as well as set drop off locations."

The toys are then distributed to local nonprofit organizations including the United Way of Pioneer Valley and the Salvation Army, along with church groups.

"From there the toys are distributed to the families," noted McCawley.

In conjunction with the Toys for Tots program, the Toys for Teens program is also underway through the efforts of Best Buy Inc. and the Marine Corps.

"Toys for Teens is geared to the older children who are often overlooked during the Toys for Tots program," said McCawley.

Since 1947, the Marines have played an active role in the development of one of our nation's most valuable resources our children and welcomes area residents to join them making the holidays a bit brighter for needy children in our region, McCawley added.

 
 
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