SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- Today was Toys for Tots Takeover Tuesday. From early morning until 3 p.m., our Western Mass News team greeted so many of you who took the time to stop down to our Springfield studios with new and unwrapped toys.
The Marines were also on-hand to accept a donation from our Western Mass News staff. Through raffles, we collected $1,000 for Toys for Tots!
We are proud, once again this year, to partner with the Marines to make sure local children in need have a merry Christmas. The need in western Massachusetts this year is record breaking.
We are so thankful that so many of you stopped by today with toys in hand. We have emptied our lobby a few times, but there is still so much work to be done.
So many of you took on the role of Santa's elves on Tuesday, bringing in new and unwrapped toys to Western Mass News to help Toys for Tots, like Deb Albert of Southwick, who said she made the trip because the need this year is so great.
"Because they're so shorthanded this year. It’s just for the kids. The kids have to have toys, you know. It's a good thing. It’s a good thing the Marines do and you do," Albert said.
In fact, the Marines at Westover Air Reserve Base, who are spearheading Toys for Tots, said they have received triple the number of individual family applications for help and have far surpassed the number of non-profit groups they usually support.
All total, they need 75,000 toys.
"That is the real number, especially considering we handle the entire western Mass. area, I think that's what throws people off. The entire western Mass. area is what we're in charge of. That's a lot of kids. That's a lot of families," said Marine Cpl. Jaylen Campbell.
That includes Berkshire, Franklin, Hampshire, and Hampden Counties.
With only a couple of weeks until Christmas, the clock is ticking. Campbell told Western Mass News that they need toys for infants on up to teens.
"We need every age group. Traditionally, it’s been like 0-to-2 or 10-to-14. This year, it's everybody. We have in the 70,000 in requests. We aren't out of toys, but we're pretty low," Campbell said.
Distribution events for families who applied are already underway, with several more scheduled this weekend.
There is a real fear that the Marines won't be able to fill the need, in part, because there is a shorter amount of time between Thanksgiving and Christmas - six days shorter than normal in fact - but they also said they are confident in the generosity of Western Mass News viewers and so are we.