COLONIE — The South Colonie School District is looking for help in their annual effort to “Stuff the Bus.”
The school district will have drop boxes set up at each school throughout the Christmas season should anyone want to contribute the broader cause of making sure every child in the U.S. gets a toy for Christmas.
And who better than the Marines to spearhead such a massive mission. Since 1947, the Marines, with countless community partners, distributed some 604 million toys to 272 million children across the country.
“This is the third largest Toys for Tots campaign in the country. This is a very big campaign and there is a mission to accomplish and, as Marines, we don’t just serve we want to give back to the community,” said SSgt. Ted Kleniewski, who is in his seventh year of working with the Capital District Toys for Tots campaign. “This has been going on for 71 years and, yes, we do take this very seriously and we do what we can to support the mission which is giving every kid a Christmas present.”
South Colonie is the only school district in the Capital District to officially participate and Superintendent David Perry said it is not only for a good cause it is a good life lesson for the students.
“This was started many years ago by our Transportation Department as a way to give back to the community and we are pleased to be a part of it again,” he said. “It’s just a great life lesson about kindness and giving back and this is a great way to kick of the campaign this year.”
A number of toys were taken out of drop boxes and loaded into a school bus by students at Saddlewood Elementary School on Monday, Nov. 29, to kick off this year’s campaign.
Anyone can drop off a toy at any of the eight schools in the district or at the Village of Colonie offices or the South Colonie offices on Loralee Drive. The Transportation Department will also facilitate toy pickups at the following locations on the following dates:
• Tuesday, Nov. 30, Shaker Road Elementary, 9:30 to 9:45 a.m.
• Wednesday, Dec. 1, Veeder Elementary, 9:30 to 10 a.m.
• Thursday, Dec. 2, Sand Creek Middle School, 9:30 to 10 a.m.
• Friday, Dec. 3, Roessleville Elementary, 9:30 to 9:45 a.m.
• Monday, Dec. 6, Lisha Kill Middle School, 9:30 to 9:45 a.m.
• Tuesday, Dec. 7, Forest Park Elementary, 9:30 to 9:45 a.m.
Across the Capital District there are some 600 locations where people can drop of new, unwrapped toys the Marines will later distribute to children who may not otherwise have much to look forward to under the tree this year.
While all toys are appreciated, Kleniewski said the toys most in need are geared towards children younger than 3 years old and those between 11 and 17 years old.
“We always get a lot of toys or those middle age ranges but too often it is the older and the younger ones who we need toys for,” he said, adding athletic equipment, makeup kits and board and cards games as examples. “We always hear about people who want to give back but who want to give something we need, well we always need those types of things.”
The Capital Region Toys for Tots campaign covers a 14-county region and in 2018 won the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots Campaign of the Year. It has some 200 communities around the Capital District that have drop boxes and will work with any size organization, from the large donors like Dunkin Donuts, which donated $25,000 this year, and the Brunswick Hogs, who recently went on an $11,000 spending spree, to fourth graders at Saddlewood Elementary School.
“Our teachers think we are really responsible for us to do this and we get to donate toys to kids who need them,” said fourth grader Ashlin Cobart after stuffing the bus outside of Saddlewood Elementary School.
While the need has grown steadily every year Perry has been involved, he said it is even more pronounced this year because people are not, or were not, frequenting stores where drop boxes are located as they were pre-COVID.
This year, packages can be sent to the warehouses or later distribution or people can donate online to the virtual toy box and/or pickups can be arranged for donors who cannot make it to an in person drop box.
For more information on where and how to donate visit toysfortots.org.
Click on a photo below to view a slideshow of the rest or click here if using a news app.