Toy drive to help "Christmas for the Needy" in Penn Yan

Updated: 06/13/2014 7:25 PM
Created: 06/12/2014 7:01 AM WHEC.com
By: Rebecca Leclair

On Friday, News10NBC is hosting a one-day drive to help one charity help another. 

A toy collection was wiped out by floods in Yates County last month. So Gary the Happy Pirate decided to take action.

It is discouraging for Sandy Carlson and Rachel Anderson to show what is left after the floods hit Penn Yan back in mid-May. There were boxes of games, packed floor to ceiling, until the creeks overflowed and water ruined more than half the stash.

Sandy Carlson, Christmas for the Needy, said, “They were in the muddy water and then the cardboard gave way so they just toppled over. Even the good ones on the top were toppling into the mud.”

Keuka College students hauled them out to dry, but the group estimates more than $20,000 worth of toys couldn’t be salvaged for distribution this December.

Rachel Anderson, Christmas for the Needy, said, “We go all year round, so to have this kind of pitfall halfway through the year of preparation is really daunting.”

The group, Christmas for the Needy normally provides gifts for about 1,000 kids in Yates County each Christmas. 

Word of the organization’s plight spread quickly to Monroe County.  Penn Yan is 55 miles from Rochester and generally that’s outside the area covered by the Pirate Toy Fund.

Gary the Happy Pirate has reached out before, especially to kids affected by natural disasters. When Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012, volunteers packed up a few hundred toys for Operation Staten Island to send to kids there who lost everything. The idea for the emergency operation sparked when Gary watched News10NBC, the day after Penn Yan was hit.

Gary the Happy Pirate said, “I knew about the floods. We all heard about the devastation, but I didn't know toys were damaged. The minute I heard that, I said, ‘we got to do something to help.’”

The group believes it will probably take 1,000 to 1,500 toys to replace what was lost and this December’s distribution could be even more critical, post-flood.

Anderson said, “This will be a financial hardship for many families in Penn Yan, because they'll have to shell out some savings in order to repair their basements, their driveways, whatever it is, so we expect that the need will be greater this year.”

Other groups are raising money for Christmas for the Needy, but collecting toys is what the Pirate Toy Fund does best. 

You can drop off a new, unwrapped toy between 5 a.m. and 7 p.m. in the parking lot of Marketplace Mall in between Macy’s and Old Navy on the Hylan Drive side. Just look for the big truck.

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