Troops of volunteers load Toys for Tots train

RENSSELAER, N.Y. (NEWS10) — It started with one Raggedy Ann Doll in 1947. Today, there are more than 800 Toys for Tots Campaigns that take place all over the nation filling trucks every year, thanks to one very dedicated group of volunteers.

“We have 30,000 toys that are being distributed to the 501C3 organizations throughout our route and we have about 10,000 stocking stuffers that get handed out on the platform to the children,” said Toys for Tots Coordinator for the Capital Region Gunnery Sergeant Albert Roman Jr.

Retired Gunnery Sergeant Roman has been coordinating the local Toys for Tots collection drive for six years now, though he doesn’t do it alone. Along with a number of other military and civilian volunteers, he willingly dedicates 100s of unpaid hours of work each year to help those less fortunate.

“If I can’t give one hundred days of my life to change someone’s perspective of life, then I’m no better than the people out there,” Roman said.

Kathleen Wilhelm and her husband have been helping out for 11 years now.

“To see a child without a gift for Christmas is not worthy and we think everybody should have a gift of some sort,” Kathleen Wilhelm said.

Thousands of children will have those gifts by the end of the weekend, and not just toys. Coats, warm clothing and food are also donated. Each item is sorted, grouped by age, tagged and later arranged by destination. It runs as smoothly as a military operation and it’s one that is a continuing success.

“It makes our heart grow, you know we just feel so good,” Kathleen said. “It feels like it’s growing and growing and growing.”

“Bringing smiles to children and showing them that there’s a better tomorrow what other way, what better else to do?” Roman said.

The campaign will run through Dec. 19. If you’d like to help too, you can reach out to Toys for Tots and of course, look for collection boxes throughout the Capital Region.

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