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Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany

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Toys For Tots Campaign begins

By Nathan L. Hanks Jr, Editor | | October 28, 2010

Since 1947, Toys For Tots has helped underprivileged children throughout the United States by collecting new, unwrapped toys and distributing them as Christmas gifts.

The Toys For Tots program is the largest outreach program in the Department of Defense.

The 2010 Toys For Tots program at Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany officially started its campaign with a press conference, Oct. 21, with opening remarks from Gunnery Sgt. Kenneth R. Starkey, assistant program coordinator.

“It has been a tradition for Marines to collect toys and hand out toys to less fortunate children,” he said. “This tradition, provided by the Marine Corps Reserves, helps area families receive Christmas gifts each year when hardships might make it difficult for them to provide presents to their children. Please help make a child’s Christmas great this year.

“The 2009 campaign collected more than 28,000 toys and has increased the goal for 2010 to collect 30,500 toys,” Starkey said. “I’ve never met a Marine who didn’t feel proud to do this.”

This initiative began when Maj. Bill Hendricks and a group of Marine reservists in Los Angeles collected and distributed 5,000 toys to needy children, an effort that resulted in a nationwide campaign a year later, according to Web site www.toysfortots.org.

The 2009 Toys For Tots national campaign set a number of records, both monetary and gift-in-kind donations, with a total revenue of nearly $245 million which was by far the best year in the history of the Toys For Tots Program, according to the Toys For Tots 2009Annual Report.

Marine reservists and volunteers distributed more than 16.3 million toys to more than 7.4 million less fortunate children, according to the report.

Those wishing to contribute can donate a toy valued at $15 or less in a Toys For Tots bin from now through December. Collections sites are located on base and throughout the Albany and surrounding areas.

On base, participants can find bins located at Buildings 3500 and 3700, Marine Corps Exchange, Staff Noncommissioned Officers’ Club and Officers’ Club.

Off base, Marines in dress blues will accept new, unwrapped toys as well as cash donations at various collection points including the Albany Mall, Sam’s Club, Kmart, Home Depot and Wal-Mart.

There is no cost for businesses to obtain a collection bin.

“Without the support from local businesses, church groups, Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Marine Corps League and a host of other organizations, this program would not exist,” said 1st Sgt. James M. Watson, Toys For Tots coordinator.

Families desiring to participate in the program are expected to meet certain criteria which is available at the Salvation Army located on Second Avenue in downtown Albany.

Registration is Mondays-Fridays, today through Nov. 5 from 9 a.m.-2 p.m.

Monetary donations can be made at secured Web site www.toysfortots.org/donate/default.asp. Click on Donate Online and complete payment information.