Toys for Tots drive under way in county – Evening Observer

Nov 18, 2021
Submitted photo Pictured at the first Toys for Tots drive-through toy collection event at the Foote Avenue Plaza in Jamestown are, from left, front row, volunteers from the Southern Tier STORM soccer team: Julianna Roth, Brielle Berg, Kinsley Berg, and Marcia McIntyre; and, back row, Patrick Smeraldo, a Toys for Tots coordinator; Janet Wahlberg; Jim Wahlberg, president of First Lutheran Congregational Council; and Jane Young, secretary of First Lutheran Congregational Council.
The annual U.S. Marine Toys for Tots drive is under way, and area businesses and residents are asked to donate toys to help make the holidays brighter for Chautauqua County children.
Last year, toys were given to a record 4,365 children – about 1,000 children more than in the previous year. Organizers believe economic hardships caused by the pandemic led to the increased number of requests for assistance last year, and they expect the need could be even greater this year.
As a result, this year’s toy drive got off to an early start. One drive-through toy donation event has already been held, and two more will take place Saturday, Nov. 27, from noon to 2 p.m. at the Chautauqua Mall in Lakewood and at Kirk’s Jewelers in Fredonia.
Toys for Tots also relies on monetary contributions so organizers can purchase toys for age groups in which not enough toys are donated to meet the need. Toward that end, two fund-raising events will be held the first weekend in December. On Friday, Dec. 3, the Empty Bottle at Southern Tier Distilling Company will host one of its “First FriYAY” events from 5 to 8 p.m. Ten percent of sales will be donated to Toys for Tots. Patrons who donate a toy to the event will be entered into a prize drawing.
The following day, the annual Holiday Shopping Extravaganza will take place at Fluvanna Community Church. The event will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. All proceeds will benefit Toys for Tots.
Also on Dec. 4, Toys for Tots will be featured in Jamestown’s holiday parade. Spectators are urged to bring new, unwrapped toys to donate as the Toys for Tots procession passes by.
Cash donations also are welcome. People can mail a check (made payable to Toys for Tots) to The Resource Center, 200 Dunham Avenue, Jamestown, NY, 14701.
Toys for Tots organizers also will be conducting a prize drawing. For information on the prizes and how to buy tickets, email
Begun in 1947, the Marine Toys for Tots campaign seeks to deliver a message of hope to less-fortunate children throughout the United States by providing them with toys for Christmas. More than 700 toy drives are held nation-wide each year. This marks the 21st straight year that employees of The Resource Center have coordinated the Toys for Tots drive in Chautauqua County. Assisting in operating the campaign again this year are Chautauqua Connections, Inc., and the Chautauqua Connections Children’s Coalition.
With thousands of toys being donated, organizers need a large warehouse space to safely store the toys. For the seventh straight year, Allied Alarm Services has donated the use of its facilities to store the toys that are donated.
Children age 17 and younger whose families meet household income guidelines are eligible for assistance through Toys for Tots. Applications for assistance must be submitted online at Families have until December 13 to apply; human-service organizations are asked to register the families they support by Dec. 6.
The Resource Center’s primary mission is to support people with disabilities. While many people with disabilities benefit from Toys for Tots each year, TRC also coordinates the annual toy drive in order to give back to the community. Though TRC organizes the toy campaign, support from area residents and businesses makes the effort a success.
“As the need in our community continues to grow each year, we are very grateful to our generous community and organizations that come together to support Toys for Tots so that every child in our community has a gift on Christmas morning,” said Terri Johnson, TRC’s director of employment and community-based services and one of the toy drive’s chief organizers.
Updates on the toy drive can be found by visiting the Chautauqua County, New York – Toys for Tots 2021 Facebook page.
Area residents also can support the Toys for Tots drive by placing new, unwrapped toys in any of the collection boxes located throughout Chautauqua County. Toys will be accepted until Friday, December 17. Here are some of the toy drop-off locations: 4th Ward Deli, Auto Credit of Jamestown, Bemus Elementary School, Bemus Point Inn, Big Lots – Jamestown, Blackstone, Busti Tap House, Chautauqua Mall, Dollar General – most Chautauqua County locations, Dunkirk City Hall, Edward Jones Financial, ERA Real Estate – Mayville, Fancher Chair, Fredonia Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram, Go Retailers, Jamestown Area Federal Credit Union – Jamestown and Lakewood, Jamestown Elks Club, Keller Group – Lockwood Agency, Kia of Jamestown, Kirk’s Jewelers & Gifts Inc, Larson-Timko Funeral Home, Matco Tooll, Nestle Purina, Northwest Arena, Ollie’s Bargain Outlet – Dunkirk and Lakewood, Panama School, Regal Services – Jamestown and Ripley, The Resource Center – all locations, Robo – Bemus Point, Roots Salon, SERVPRO, Shults Auto Group – all Chautauqua County locations, Silver Creek Chiropractic, Southern Tier Distilling Company, Twin Docks, Visions of Elegance, Water Street Brass, Wegmans and Windstream.
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