SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - The number of local families applying for help this Christmas from the Toys for Tots campaign is now triple what it was last year, and there's still more than a week to get applications in.
Thursday morning at Nathan Bill's Bar and Restaurant in Springfield, local Marines were getting an early start to help set up donation boxes for Toys for Tots.
Co-owner Joe Sullivan says its a way to remember his brother, Tommy Sullivan, the gunnery sergeant and Springfield native killed in a 2015 terrorist attack at a naval reserve center in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
"My brother was a Marine, eighteen years. Lost his life as a Marine, saving other Marines, so it's an event that the Marines do that's near and dear to everyone's heart, giving toys to kids for Christmas, so it seemed like a natural thing to do to honor his name, and he loved kids," Sullivan tells us.
Not only did Tommy love kids, his brother tells Western Mass News he also loved Toys for Tots.
"He was big into Toys for Tots. He was an organizer with his unit, wherever he was, so it was important to him so it's important to us. Now, I mean, we turned it into something in remembrance of him and to honor his name, so it's become bigger and bigger every year," continued Sullivan.
Local Marines say the bigger the better since this year they have already tripled last year's number of applications of families looking for help.
"We're triple the numbers we were last year, so right now, we have 60,000 kids requesting toys. There's over 200 organizations requesting toys and for individual families, there's over 2,000. We're thinking that we're going to hit about 70,000 kids that we're going to service between nonprofit organizations and individual families," stated Sgt. Brandon Amarahale.
Sgt. Brandon Amarahale says you can help by donating at one of the hundreds of drop off spots across western Mass.
"There's always kids out there that need toys for the holiday season. Times get hard and what we do is a way to give back to these kids," says Sgt. Amarahale.
To learn you can apply and to donate, you can click or tap here for more information.