They weren’t hired by Santa, but they sure did help him out when over 25 Dunkin Donuts franchisees hit the aisles of the Wolf Road Toys R’Us on Monday, Nov. 16, to choose $20,000 worth of toys to give to children who might not have otherwise gotten any this holiday season.
Every year, the national Toys for Tots program, run by the Marine Corps., collects new toys for children during the holiday season. Distribution of the toys in New York came with an added pleasure as the Marines would drop off the toys after loading them all on a train provided by the Canadian Pacific Railway that would run from Binghamton to Plattsburgh on December 5 and 6.
In the past, this holiday train was paid for through sponsorship from a Wall Street investor, however, this year, due to the blighted economy, the investor was unable to provide the sponsorship to keep the train running.
After hearing that the train would not run without this sponsorship, Dunkin Donuts’ local franchise decided to pick up sponsorship of the train, in addition to contributing $20,000 to purchase toys for the children.
We said, ‘Let’s donate the money and keep that train on its tracks,’ said Eric Stensland, field marketing manager for Dunkin Donuts.
Stensland said the 25 Dunkin Donuts employees who came out to shop for the children on Monday, Nov. 16, were hoping to purchase enough toys to give to between 200 and 300 children.
Marine Gunnery Sgt. Albert Roman said the Marine group leading the effort at the Wolf Road Toys R’ Us, stationed in Glenville, had hoped to collect 30,000 toys to be distributed on the train and about 120,000 toys to provide to children in the community.
With the help of Dunkin Donuts, Roman said this could be possible.
`It was a blessing that we were able to meet in this crisis,` he said.
While Roman repeatedly encouraged the shoppers to `have fun` during the spree, he also said it was important to allow people to see where the money for these toys is going and how many toys can be purchased, giving children happiness in the holiday season.
`My main focus for the shopping spree is to show people where the money is going,` he said.
Shoppers were asked to choose toys that were $15 or less, as Roman said the group wanted to get the most bang for the buck and acquire as many toys as possible. Shoppers were also asked not to purchase any type of toy guns or wooden toys as they did not meet the safety standards of the program.
The Marines began collecting the toys on Thursday, Oct. 1, and will conclude the collection period on Tuesday, Dec. 22, so that all of the toys can be distributed by the end of the holiday season, Roman said.
Nancy Loomis, one of the shoppers from Dunkin Donuts, was choosing a G.I. Joe toy for a young boy.
`It’s very important to help the less fortunate children,` she said.
Ruth Ann Turner-Greenwood, a general manager of the Ivo Garcia Network of Dunkin Donuts, said that she was glad to be helping her community.
`It’s important just to be able to help out the community and the less fortunate,` she said.
The Marines are currently focusing on toys for children infant-aged to two years old and six to 12 years old, Roman said. Collections will continue through November and December and donations from the community are welcomed, he said.
If you are interested in making a toy donation to Toys for Tots, visit the Capital District Toys for Tots Web site at www.albany-ny.toysfortots.org for a complete list of donation sites, or drop off toys at your nearest Toys R’Us.
For more on this story, check back at www.spotlightnews.com, or read the Wednesday, Nov. 18, print edition of the Colonie Spotlight.