Toys for Tots accepting donations at Jefferson County businesses

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WATERTOWN — The 2022 Toys for Tots campaign in Jefferson County is collecting toys for children at 77 local businesses.

Coordinator Michelle Tinsley said toys and monetary donations to buy specific kinds of toys are gladly accepted.

The campaign is officially over on Dec. 21, but donations will continue to be taken by phone through Dec. 23. From Dec. 21 to 23, families are able to do open shopping, which allows them to set up appointments to shop for toys for their children.

“I have 44 people already signed up for open shopping,” Ms. Tinsley said.

A handful of volunteers helped Ms. Tinsley on Wednesday to unpack and sort toys at the Toys for Tots Center at Watertown’s Top of the Square Plaza.

Volunteers Kim Oliver and Jean Gianfagna said they help with Toys for Tots because “not everyone is so fortunate” as to have the means to provide gifts for their children during the holidays.

“We’ve seen so many kids that just didn’t have the basics and things that they need, so if we can make Christmas a little happier for them — that’s why we do it,” Ms. Oliver said.

Four years ago, when Ms. Tinsley started in the north country as coordinator for the campaign, she said there were 25 or 30 drop-off boxes in the area, and there are “a whole lot more volunteers” that help to pick up toys from those locations now than there were.

The area also receives a supplemental donation from the Toys for Tots Foundation of “between $12,000 and $15,000 worth of toys” to start the campaign in November.

Local gathering places like churches and food pantries get together and collect names of families who need assistance, and each child receives three toys, stocking stuffers and a book for the holidays.

Ms. Tinsley added that the center tries to tailor toys to each child so that kids receive gifts that interest them.

To make donations, see the list of drop-off locations, toy suggestions or apply to receive a gift, call Ms. Tinsley at 315-405-1730, or visit wdt.me/toys.

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