ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — As the pandemic drags on and times stay tough, more people are looking to charitable organizations to keep their spirits up this holiday season. The Capital Region Toys for Tots drive is the third-largest in the U.S. and in 2020, volunteers put smiles on more than 200,000 kids faces with toys, warm clothes and other donations.
Volunteers this year are already doing their best to sort through thousands of dollars in donations, but although the Toys for Tots warehouse looks pretty well stocked, those in charge say they’re not immune to the financial pitfalls of the pandemic.
“We really need help with the seven-plus older kids this year and also with the agencies we’ve talked to who are requesting toys, they see a bigger need, a bigger request,” explains Kathy Lincoln, the Capital Region Toys for Tots warehouse chief.
She says the organization has already taken precautions like starting the social media campaign early and using monetary donations now to get ahead of national supply chain issues and secure all the kids’ favorite holiday surprises.
Lincoln says the program also heavily relies on big, annual community events — like Saturday’s Rock for Tots concert. Those involved say it will be great getting the music flowing again for a good cause after such a long time with dark stages.
“I’ve seen a lot of need. A lot of single parents, a lot of people that have disabilities unable to work needing help, so everybody’s pulled together as a community,” says event co-founder Andy Walters.
“For the last year and a half, we really haven’t been gigging, and the band always enjoys playing, but when it comes to doing something that is a fundraiser, something that gives back to the community, it adds that extra level to playing and enjoying and giving back,” adds Jim Moran, a band member for Watchdog.
Lincoln says as demand continues to go up, they need all hands on deck to make sure every kid in need gets a happy holiday.
“We need everybody’s help, everybody’s contribution. Whether it’s one toy, whether it’s a dollar, whether it’s coming down here to volunteer for an hour to help sort toys, bag toys, any little thing helps,” she says.
NEWS10 ABC’S Mikhaela Singleton will be this year’s Rock for Tots emcee. The concert will be at Philly’s in Latham from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. and will feature not only Watchdog, but also other well-known local acts like Hit ‘n Run, Flame, and Jenna Sue.
To learn more about volunteering for Capital Region Toy’s for Tots, click here.