WARSAW – Families, students and various groups joined dozens of firefighters Saturday for the annual Toys For Tots collection drive at Martin’s Supermarket Saturday.
The large-scale collection drive had lots of volunteer support under cool but cold conditions.
Among them, Grace College volunteered to help collect items Warsaw Community High School’s Advanced Women’s Choir sang Christmas tunes in the frigid, sunny conditions.
About two dozen employees and family members from Zimmer Biomet were helping at the site and at the Toys For Tots staging area at the old Ace Hardware store on Center Street where toys were later sorted.
Bill Bennett and his five-year-old grandson, Cayden, drove from Syracuse to drop off a bag of gifts that Bill and his wife had collected over the past year.
Participating in the event has become an annual thing for the family.
“It just makes us feel good,” Bennett said.
Syracuse American Legion Riders hosted a dinner and a breakfast and then used collection cans to generate money in recent months to buy gifts. A group of them dropped off about $1,000 in toys Saturday morning.
“This is our first year, but we’re gonna make it an annual event,” said Kevin Scrodtman.
The event was highlighted by the arrival of a caravan of fire trucks.
The caravan included nearly 30 trucks from 15 departments, representing the efforts of some 373 volunteer and paid staff, according to Kevin McSherry, president of the Kosciusko County Fireman’s Association.
Milford Fire Department once again stood out with its donations. Organizers had so many gifts to drop off that they used a trailer. “They’re the big story today,” McSherry said.
Tricia Sloma, the WNDU anchor, was back for another year. She’s telecast live remotes from Warsaw for 22 of 25 years the television station has been involved in the promotion.
“I love it down here,” Sloma said. ”You see the same families year in and year out. I’ve held babies and then years later, I’m holding their babies. Now if that isn’t something, I don’t know what is.”
While Saturday’s toy drive is always a highlight, the toy collection campaign, led by longtime coordinator Dave Morales, will continue until Dec. 16.
Last year, the program provided gifts to 2863 children in the area.
To learn more, go to the group’s local website.