Coordinator - James Ransom - Camden, NY
My two daughters, Isabella and Liliana Todora have always gone above and beyond to make sure Christmas is special for children in need. Growing the campaign over the past four years, my family and I have helped secure more than 1,000 toys for Toys for Tots, involving several local businesses. The toy drive started in 2016 with a 3 a.m., couldn’t-sleep moment. At the time, Isabella was 2 years old, and I wanted her to propose a way in learning about giving back to others and instilling a sense of pride in her community. The first year I had hoped to get about 50 toys, but not knowing what to expect, we received 500 toys that year! At that point, I knew that we were just getting started. It grew to 750 toys in 2017 and 1,000 toys by 2018; and in 2019, we collected 1,035 toys and roughly $1,000 in cash donations! We used $800 of that to do one big shopping trip to shop for toys for the campaign. Doing so keeps it hands-on for the girls and they love being able to help pick out toys for the children. This past year we teamed up with our local Toys for Tots, headed by Jim Ransom, and the support from local businesses has been amazing. We have partnered with All Creatures Boarding and Grooming, Bouton Physical Therapy, Cycle Shack, J. M. Uvanni Motors, John Hayes O’Neill Dance, Just Teasin’, KDK Sports, MPW Marketing, and The Mill. Each of these businesses would set up drop-off boxes and stand there throughout the drive encouraging their patrons to drop off toys, offering specials and discounts for those that donated a toy. One of the biggest reasons for partnering with Toys for Tots this past year is because my husband is a Marine, so tying in with Toys for Tots really made this a full-circle family event. As the girls grow older, my hope is that they will eventually take over the reins and lead the process, knowing they have this to look forward to every year. It is time consuming, yes, but so rewarding and humbling knowing that you are responsible for leading the charge to help so many kids in the community. We take donations throughout the year and stockpile the toys until the pick-up in December so there is not a need to wait until November to start shopping.