As the holidays approach, the local chapter of the U.S. Marines-run nonprofit Toys for Tots gears up for another season of gathering donated gifts to give to less fortunate children across Long Island.
Last year more than 220,000 toys were distributed to 110,000 children in Nassau and Suffolk counties, according to Garden City Toys for Tots.
“One of my best memories is when I was up in North Shore Hospital delivering toys to the pediatric unit,” retired Marine Major Chuck Kilbride, Long Island’s representative for the past 30 years, told the Levittown Tribune. “There was a little girl who had just gotten her third bone marrow transplant. She looked up at one of the Marines that was with us and told him he was her hero. The Marine took off his medals, pinned them on the little girl and told her, ‘No, you are my hero.’”
Toys for Tots is a nationwide initiative that was the brainchild of a Marine Corps Reserve Major in 1947. Now in its 72nd year, it has about 800 chapters nationwide.
The organization asks for newly wrapped, unopened toys to be donated from October to early December so they are properly distributed along the Island. The organization’s mission is to assist the U.S. Marine Corps in uplifting disadvantaged children at Christmas. The aim is to give these youngsters the hope they need to become responsible, productive, patriotic citizens.
Along with the other men and women who have continued to serve the country by spearheading local branches of the foundation, Kilbride ensures that kids get the toys that they truly require. When visiting the United Cerebral Palsy Association of Nassau County several years ago, Kilbride remarked on the fact that the children present require certain toys for their needs.
“We had the opportunity to donate $25,000 worth of toys to help these physically
disabled kids,” he said. “We at the marine core love to put a smile on a kid’s face.”
Donation boxes will be placed in high-traffic public places through the holidays. For more information, visit garden-city-ny.toysfortots.org