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Toys for Tots train delivers presents across region

By Lydia Wheeler, Glens Falls Post-Star

1476 days ago   Article ID# 770939
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Toys for Tots

GLENS FALLS , NEW YORK (Glens Falls Post-Star) - Jim Lafayette worried that Santa Claus would come to town without an ample supply of toys for all the girls and boys.

Lafayette was rushing around on Sunday to make sure everything was set for the jolly man, who arrived in Whitehall on the Toys for Tots train that morning.

"I had 111 children signed up, and another 20 or so came in unexpected this morning," said the chairman of American Legion Post 83, which was the local sponsor for the Marine Corps program.

Lafayette said Sunday’s turnout of over 130 people was a stretch for the Legion, which had to order toys a week and a half ahead of time and give the Toys for Tots program a list of names in advance.

"Like us, they can only give what’s been donated," he said.

For many parents waiting in the cold on Sunday, those donations are the only way to provide their child a Christmas gift this year.

Although Nicolette Walker of Granville is employed through a temp agency now, she said she is still trying to catch up on bills that piled up after she lost her previous job.

Walker said she missed the deadline to receive holiday assistance from the Salvation Army.

"That’s why we’re here," she said on Sunday, as she waited for the train to arrive. "It’s hard when you have a 6-year-old that believes in Santa and you can’t even get him one or two things on his list."

Just before 11:30 a.m., Mr. and Mrs. Claus arrived on the Canadian Pacific Railway holiday train. Marines and volunteers dispersed into the crowd and immediately began handing out fleece blankets and new coats, hats and mittens, along with toys and board games to the families.

Whitehall was the third of 12 stops on Dunkin’ Donuts Toys for Tots two-day train route across upstate New York, which started on Saturday in Binghamton and ended late Sunday by the Canadian border in Rouses Point.

This year, Dunkin’ Donuts contributed more than $30,000 to support the Toys for Tots Train; $25,000 was used to purchase toys and $5,000 went toward new coats.

As an unemployed mother of an 8-year-old daughter and 13-year-old son, Melissa Smith, said she relies on the Toys for Tots Train for their Christmas gifts.

"I’m on unemployment, so I wouldn’t be able to do too much without it," she said.

In the town and village of Whitehall, Bonnie Brown said the Toys for Tots Train is always well-received.

"It brings a lot of people out. You never knew you had that many in Whitehall," she said.

Copyright 2014 Glens Falls Post-Star   (Copyright Terms)
Updated 1476 days ago   Article ID# 770939

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