Whitehall readies itself for Toys for Tots Train

B y Lee Tugas

This Friday Jim Lafayette will go to one of the Queensbury Walmart’s and shop until he drops.

But it is all for a good cause, American Legion Post 83’s “Toys for Tots Program,” which will be held Sunday in cooperation with Amtrak and the United States Marine Corps.

Throughout the fall, and now winter, American Legion Post 83 has held several fund raisers to get ready for the Toys for Tots Train, which will arrive at the Whitehall Amtrak station at 11:15 a.m. on Sunday, Dec.8.

But on Friday before the train’s arrival, Lafayette, “with a couple of thousand dollars in my pocket,” will walk into Walmart and shop for children in need.

Lafayette admitted that he would have help from the staff at Walmart in selecting just the right toys for boys and girls. And if the toys should run out on Sunday, the Event Chairman said more money would be raised and more toys would be purchased, either at Walmart, or Family Dollar — wherever toys are.

The Toys for Tots program is intended for needy children up to age 12, each of whom receives one or two toys that are provided by the Toys for Tots Program and by local donations.

(That trip to Walmart on Friday is a result of local fund raising by the Legion.)

To register for the program, a parent or guardian must call either the American Legion Post 83 at 499-2482, after 2 p.m. or Lafayette himself at 499-1150.

The information that is required is the parent’s or guardian’s name and a contact phone number. Organizers also need the name, age and sex of the child. Donations of new unwrapped toys can still be dropped off at the Legion Post or a cash donation for that Friday Toys for Tots shopping spree can be made payable to Legion Post 83, with Toys for Tots indicated in the note portion.

When the train arrives…

When the train arrives, Lafayette said its guests would be rail officials, Santa and Mrs. Claus and a delegation of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve.

“Everyone in Whitehall is welcome,” Lafayette stressed. He added that Santa Claus and his better half would be giving out cookies and donuts, while Marine Corps Reserves would be giving out winter jackets to those in need.

“I hope a lot of people come to the event,” Lafayette said. “It really pleases the train company people.”

Firehouse distribution

Since most of the needy families have already registered, Lafayette said the distribution of the “Toys for Tots” would be done after the train ceremony in the Whitehall Volunteer Fire Company headquarters.

The various toys will be placed on display and given to the children of those families who have registered.

The drop off is conducted by the Marine Corps’ Albany Reserve Unit, working with Post 83 members. The time to pick up the toys is later at 1 p.m. and photo identification is required for toy pickup.

Last year, 139 needy children were served by the local Toys for Tots Program. And in case the Fire Company site runs out of toys, Lafayette said more money would be raised and more toys bought. Any child on the list will get a toy, “Or we’ll shop again,” Lafayette said.

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