Collections for Toys For Tots are off to a good start, but the local Marine Corps Reserve units expect to get even more requests this year than before.
"There was more need last year than the previous year and we sort of suspect this year, with the economy the way it is, it will be higher than ever," said Don Frankenfield, area coordinator.
"We serviced over 3,500 kids last year," he said. The Elton E. Mackin detachment in Huron County and the Firelands Detachment in Erie County combine efforts for the program. They handed out more than 8,400 toys last Christmas.
Frankenfield said the Marines have collected more than 1,800 toys already this year, but expect to need as many as 9,000. The program serves children up to 12 years old. Frankenfield said most of the toys distributed are in the $10 to $15 range.
With a number of toys being recalled over safety issues recently, Frankenfield said Toys For Tots is checking donations carefully. "We have not found anything that is suspect," he said. "The word got out early enough."
He said all donations are checked against a 22-page list distributed by the U.S. Consumer Protection Safety Commission. "What we have also done is check any toys from China that are painted and set them aside," he said. If recalled toys are found, Frankenfield explained, the national Toys For Tots organization will contact the manufacturers. But that probably wouldn't get settled until after Christmas and the local organization must still have enough toys to distribute, he said.
Frankenfield said that the local program gets support from both businesses and individuals. "We have good support from the business community," he said.
In Huron County, Frankenfield said, Norweco has made a substantial donation for several years and the Shamrock Tavern held a golf outing to help Toys For Tots for the second year in a row. Main Street School also has a special collection for the program.
He said Meier in Erie County also made a large donation this year. Big Lots and Toys R Us are national sponsors for the program, he added.
Donations can be made in Norwalk at Schild's, Big Lots, Don Tester Ford, Main Street School and Epic Industries. Frankenfield said the Salvation Army in Norwalk, Gift Box in New London and individuals in Willard, Bellevue and North Fairfield take applications and handle requests.