Veterans Collecting Toys for Local Kids
By Mina Corpuz
FITCHBURG -- The second “Local Veterans Helping Local Children” toy drive is collecting Christmas gifts to give to less fortunate children around the city on Dec. 19.
“The bottom line is it’s all for the kids,” said Phil Jordan, a veteran and former firefighter who is helping with the toy drive. “It’s something positive and good we’re doing.”
The toys will be distributed from 2-6 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 19, at Rollstone Congregational Church on Main Street.
The toys are for children up to age 13 in Fitchburg, Leominster, and surrounding towns. If there are some teenagers in need of gifts, they can receive them, too, said Jordan.
From 1-4 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 7, families can submit applications at the church for children to receive toys. Applications will be accepted during those hours also on Saturday, Dec. 8, Friday, Dec. 14-15, and Dec. 17.
The applications require information like proof of residency, school information, and the ages of children to receive gifts.
Last year there were about 80 applications for gifts and 190 presents given out, said Brenda Fitzgerald, administrative assistant for the veterans services office.
If there are left over toys, they will still have a home, Jordan said. They will be donated to local charities like Ginny’s Helping Hand in Leominster or given to fire and police departments, like the ones in Ashby, to give to families.
“At the end there is nothing left,” he said. “Everything is going to needy families,”
Families will also receive boxes of food donated by the two Hannaford Supermarket stores in Leominster, Jordan said.
The toy drive is sponsored by the city’s Veterans Council and Rollstone Church. This is the second year that the veteran services office took over the drive from Toys for Tots.
Jordan has been part of the Toys for Tots drive for 14 years. Two years ago, he suggested the council hold one to focus on children in the area and get help from local veterans.
Volunteers -- including city officials, students, and police officers -- have helped with bell ringing outside the Rollstone church to collect donations for the drive.
Fitzgerald sent invitations to the city councilors and mayor to have them come again this year.
Donation boxes to collect toys are set up at nearly 30 locations, including the Fitchburg City Hall on Boulder Drive, Leominster’s City Hall and Fitchburg High School.
All will be collected on Dec.17, which is when volunteers will take the boxes to Rollstone Church.
In addition to toy donations, people can write checks payable to the “Fitchburg Veterans’ Council Toys for Kids” and mail them to the Veterans’ Services office at 14 Wallace Ave., Fitchburg, MA 01420.
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