Toys for Tots facing uncertain year

A charitable endeavor that provided more than 200 children with gifts last December is facing an uncertain future.

The U.S. Marine Corps Reserve which has for years delivered toys to children in need is no longer participating in the Toys for Tots program because of budget cuts and increased combat deployments.

And while the program is now organized by the Marine Corps League and is scheduled to visit Whitehall next month, local volunteers believe the event will be smaller.

“I really think it will still happen, it will just be scaled down,” said Jim Lafayette, Adjutant of American Legion Post 83, which helps organize the event in Whitehall.

In the past toys were supplied by a Marine Corps Reserve in Albany and supplemented through local donations but that task will now fall to Detachment No. 2 in Hudson Falls, which hasn’t participated in the program.

That means Lafayette and other local volunteers will have to find a way to get even more donations.

“The train is coming, it’s just a question of how many toys I can get,” said Lafayette.

Last year’s event served 210 local children, a record turnout for Whitehall. And with the economy slow to recover, demand is expected to be high again this year.

Lafayette worked with Canadian Pacific Rail officials to get an allotment of toys for registered families and is seeking donations of new, unwrapped toys. He is also looking for families that are interested in receiving toys. Both are encouraged to call him at 499-1150 for more information.

This year’s train will stop in Whitehall at 11 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 9, at the Amtrak Station on Whitehall.

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