Local Wal-Marts Host ‘Fill the Truck’ Drive To Support Toys for Tots, Salvation Army

OSWEGO, NY – The three area Wal-Mart store joined forces over the weekend to support not only the Salvation Army, but Toys for Tots as well.

Taking part in the initiative to help provide a cheerful Christmas to local children were the stores in Oswego, Granby and Central Square.

Ryan Candee accepts a donation toward the local Toys for Tots campaign
Ryan Candee accepts a donation toward the local Toys for Tots campaign

They hosted a “Fill the Truck” toy drive that will help provide new toys and coats to local children in need this Christmas, according to Christine Gray, public affairs director for the Empire State Division of the Salvation Army.

Members of the public donated many new toys and coats to children who take part in Salvation Army programs year-round.

Chris Jones, Toys for Tots coordinator, said 25 kids (and their families) from Pryor’s Tae Kwon Do America stopped down to the store to present Toys for Tots with a $2,200 donation.

“They helped fill the entire back of the truck,” said Ryan Candee, the US Marine who was volunteering for Toys for Tots.

He was accepting donations and also selling Toys for Tots / USMC Christmas ornaments for a $5 donation.

“All the money goes back to Toys for Tots and is used to buy gifts for the kids. It’s all used right here locally,” he said.

“The kids held a break-a-thon during this fall’s Great Pumpkin Fest and raised money. They donated it to Toys for Tots,” Jones said.

They then used the cash to purchase toys.

“It took longer to cash them out then it did for them to actually shop,” Jones said. “They did an amazing job.”

He had a need for gifts for youngsters between the ages of 6 and 11.

“It worked out very well because they were all around that age. I just told them to go in and get whatever they’d like to see under their tree on Christmas morning,” Jones said.

Wal-Mart and the Salvation Army have partnered together for more than 30 years to help support people in need.

This year, Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club are also hosting Salvation Army red kettles in front of their stores as part of the 122nd Annual Red Kettle Campaign.

Bellringers will be at Wal-Mart, and several other locations, now through Dec. 24, Major Richard Best said.

Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club helped the Salvation Army raise more than $46 million nationally, nearly one-third of the record $147.6 million raised in 2011, Gray said.

Michael Harris takes a turn at ringing the bell after making a donation to the Salvation Army's annual red kettle drive
Michael Harris takes a turn at ringing the bell after making a donation to the Salvation Army’s annual red kettle drive

All donations made to the red kettles and “Fill the Truck” events will remain in the local community, she added.

For more information, call the Salvation Army at 343-6491 (from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., or leave a message).

Further information is also available at [email protected]

Jones said he wanted to thank Jeff Holbrook.

“Without him this would have been nearly impossible. He donated space in a heated warehouse for us to organize and sort all the toys,” he explained.

He also recognized the Broadwell Hospitality Group for hosting an event at the conference center for the children and their families.

“They went over and above. And Malone’s Garage donated use of a U-Haul to transport the donations. We had to pack it up twice,” he said. “That is what makes this area so great. No matter how tough things may be, it always seems that people are always willing to help their neighbors.”

Businesses and organizations that have supported this year’s campaign include the Oswego Lake City Police Club, the Broadwell Hospitality Group (Lake Ontario Event and Conference Center, Quality Inn & Suites Riverfront, Best Western Captain’s Quarters, and GS Steamers), Step One Creative, the Oswego Firefighters Association #2707, the Oswego Border Patrol, US Coast Guard Station Oswego and Oswego County Sheriff’s Department.

Since the program was founded in 1947, every year Toys for Tots provides grateful families nationwide with the joy of a new gift on Christmas. The mission of the Toys for Tots program is to collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November, and December each year, and distribute the toys as Christmas gifts to needy children in the community.

This year’s campaign wraps up on Dec. 18.

“But I never stop accepting toys or donations (some of which are given to families after a fire or other disaster). It all stays right here in the county,” he said. “It’s a seven day a week job. But, it’s worth it.”

For additional information, call Jones at (315) 342-0396.

To learn more about Toys for Tots, visit www.toysfortots.org or for local information http://fulton-ny.toysfortots.org/local-coordinator-sites/lco-sites/default.asp