Marines from Westover Air Reserve Base need your help. Their annual Toys for Tots campaign is well underway and the need this year, we're told, is greater than ever.
We caught up with the Marines in a top secret location Friday as they got ready for what's looking to be a record-breaking holiday season.
It's the Marine's top secret warehouse, where toy donations come in and are sorted into bins: boys and girls, infants on up to teenagers.
Christmas time for these Marines actually started much earlier this fall.
"There's about 15 of us. We're here every day," said Marine Sgt. Evan Johnson.
Founded in 1947, the mission of Toys for Tots remains the same: to collect new, unwrapped toys for children in need at Christmas, and the need here in western Massachusetts keeps growing.
"Right now, for single families, we're close to 1,200," Johnson explained.
That number has already surpassed last year's total and it's not even Thanksgiving.
"We're going to stop the requests around November 16 because it's filling up way faster then we thought it would compared to last year," Johnson explained.
Already, the Marines are distributing toys to some of the many local non-profits they also work with.
"I serve families who are recent immigrants, who are refugees who came to this country basically with nothing," said Sandra Panchenko with Multi-Cultural Community Services.
Today, staff from Multi-Cultural Community Cervices in Springfield stopped by to get help making Christmas bright for the more than 1,200 families they serve throughout western Massachusetts.
"So they come here and getting their Christmas toys or holiday toys is so big for them, you can't imagine," Panchenko explained.0
Without Toys for Tots, they told Western Mass News that they would not be able to help all the children they do this Christmas.
"We do this for people who, unfortunately, don't have the means to be able to purchase gifts for their children for Christmas and there's nothing more special than watching a little one open a gift on Christmas day," added Carmen Torres with Multi-Cultural Community Services.
Western Mass News is proud once again to partner with the Toys for Tots campaign. You can drop off new, unwrapped toys to our studio at 1300 Liberty Street in Springfield beginning November 19 until December 21.