SARATOGA, NY (NEWS10) – It all starts here. Thousands of coats and toys and stocking stuffers in carts like this one and the distributed to children in need all across the Capital Region.
Sunday morning and even though the sun isn’t even up yet, these volunteers are.
“As you can see we are starting to assemble about 100 volunteers, marines, servicemen.” said Staff Sgt. Patrick Lorenz.
It’s all aboard for the Marine Corps Reserve Dunkin Donuts Toys for Tots train.
A long name, with a simple goal, delivering toys to families and children who might not have access to them.
“A very unique experience, a lot of good stuff going on. You’re going to see a lot of kids with a lot of smiles,” said Staff Sgt Lorenz.
Sponsored by Dunkin Donuts for the last eight years, the train is packed with over 40,000 toys.
“I can’t think of a better cause during the holidays to share the joy of Christmas with those kids in those communities,” said Eric Stensland, Field Marketing Manager for Dunkin Donuts.
“What better way to help a child on Christmas Eve and see these toys.” Roman Gunnery Sergeant Roman is one of the people who makes it all possible.
“Watching the people come together, strangers coming together for the same cause and that’s to show these kids there’s a better tomorrow,” said Roman.
And as the train, filled with volunteers and toys, makes its way to Saratoga, it’s Roman who keeps it chugging along. And eventually, arriving in style, honoring fallen New York State Trooper Timothy Pratt and his family.
And of course handing out toys.
“I feel this is special to them and maybe we’ll make it a yearly tradition every year,” said mother who brought her sons to collect toys.
What Roman doesn’t expect is that after all that, it’s him who is honored with a surprise ceremony that brings tears to his eyes.
“This is what family really is. It’s people doing things for other people.” Roman and that might be the best gift of all.
“I’m so grateful. And now we have a mission to complete, “said Roman.
So in the end, this isn’t just a special day for families and kids here but also to the volunteers who dedicate countless hours to making all of this possible.