Rochester In Focus: ‘Toys For Tots’ holiday toy drive kicks off this week

For more than 70 years, Toys For Tots has helped connect families in need with gifts for kids during the holidays. An initiative started by the Marine Corps Reserve, Toys For Tots continues locally with help from Local Community Organizer Jason Tiefel. News10NBC’s Emily Putnam spoke with Tiefel about this year’s goals, and how to get involved.

"Last year we took in and distributed over 68,000 toys," said Tiefel. "It was 27,139 children that received toys last year, and that’s for the better part of six counties that we’re responsible for."

Tiefel oversees toy donations in Monroe, Ontario, Livingston, Orleans, Genesee, and Yates counties, and there are drop boxes in each county.

For families that receive these donations, it’s more than just a toy — it’s the joy of giving and receiving during the holidays.

"They’re amazingly grateful," said Tiefel. "It touches you, it really does. It hits you right in the heart when you see tears in their eyes knowing the fact that they’re able to kind of give toys to their children, when otherwise they wouldn’t be able to kind of do that."

If you can’t get to a drop-off location, it’s no problem — there are ways to participate virtually as well.

"If you don’t have a chance to actually go out and purchase a toy, you can actually purchase a toy online and it gets shipped right to us to be able to provide to a local child in need."

There are a couple of different ways you can help:

  • Drop off a toy in one of the Toys For Tots drop-off bins around the region. For a full list of drop-off locations, click here
  • Make a cash donation by clicking here
  • Donate to the Virtual Toy Drive by clicking here
  • Volunteer — Jason and his team are looking for people to help sort and distribute toys. Click here for volunteer info.