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Making Christmas Bright

FULTON, NY – Large cardboard boxes wearing a familiar train logo are scattered in and around Fulton, collecting toys for Oswego County kids for Christmas.

This year marks the 60th year for the local Marine Corps Reserve’s annual Toys For Tots drive. According to Burton Storrings, commander for the Merton R. Kemp Jr. Detachment #651 of the Marine Corps League, local Marines are looking forward to a successful year.

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From left are Robert Stoutenger, Ed Stoutenger, Commander Burton Storrings, Mayor Daryl Hayden, David LaClair, Jean LaClair and William “Bud” Shinnick.

Storrings explained that the local drive serves Fulton, Phoenix, Oswego, Hannibal and Central Square. Last year, the group distributed 5,000 Christmas toys for local children.

While the Marine Corps League manages the collection boxes, Storrings pointed out that the bulk of the distribution is handled by other agencies.

“The toys are distributed by other groups, including Catholic Charities, the Salvation Army, Lions clubs and Kiwanis clubs,” Storrings said. “We usually try to give three toys per child.

“I always keep a few toys for those who can’t make arrangements with those agencies,” Storrings noted. “Last year, I helped 59 families from my home.”

Boxes are currently set up in visible businesses inside the distribution areas for new and unwrapped toys. Storrings pointed out that Toys For Tots only “bans” one toy during its drive.

“Toys For Tots does not distribute any type of a toy gun,” he explained. “There is enough violence in the world. We don’t want that for Christmas, too.”

William “Bud” Shinnick, who has been involved in Toys For Tots through the Marine Corps League for 47 years, said that he believes the drive is a fantastic way to make Christmas bright for local youngsters.

“It is a program that really takes our children in need into consideration,” Shinnick said.

Shinnick noted that because of the amount of time that the drive has been conducted in the area, there is no way to estimate how many people — now even local adults — have benefited from the program through the years.

“There are many, many children who have, at one time or another, received help from this,” Shinnick said. “I am very proud of it.”

Fulton Mayor Daryl Hayden said that he believes the Toys For Tots drive is an overall positive for this area.

“I think it is great,” Hayden said. “Christmas is for kids and (the Marine Corps League) does a heck of a job making it special for them. I think it is great when someone steps forward to help our community or any community.”

Storrings pointed out that the local drive goes beyond the box collections.

“Any person, organization or business that is interested in making a monetary donation can do that, too,” Storrings said.

Storrings explained that each check is stamped and deposited into an account that is used to purchase toys for the holidays. He noted that he makes toy purchases locally, to keep the sales tax revenues in Oswego County.

“The only way that the money for the toys stays local is with that stamp,” Storrings said. “If checks are made to Toys For Tots but don’t have that stamp, the money goes to the (main organization).”

Checks, made payable to Toys For Tots, can be sent to Storrings at 9198 Smokey Hollow Road, Baldwinsville, NY 13027. Anyone interested in additional information can contact Storrings at 695-6801.