Toys For Kids And Teens Collection Under Way In Blackstone Valley

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William Marcelli, chairman of the Toys for Kids and Teens Drive, and William Audette, goes over last year's records as they prepare for this year's toy collection. Photo Credit: Deborah Gauthier

NORTHBRIDGE, Mass. – A young mother stood on the steps to 111 South Main St. in Uxbridge one day last week. “Is this where they give away toys?’’ she asked.

She is among what will surely be a large number of parents and grandparents depending on the Blackstone Valley Detachment 911 Marine Corps League for Christmas help this year.

Last year, the league gave out about 6,000 toys to more than 1,200 families, said this year’s chairman, William Marcelli.

Members and volunteers have been knocking on doors for a couple weeks with a letter in hand. It introduces recipients to the league’s annual “Toys for Kids & Teens” campaign through which they hope to collect thousands of toys and gift cards for needy children in the Blackstone Valley.

“We would be deeply grateful if you would allow us to place a toy collection box in your place of business. Any toys donated should be new and unwrapped,’’ the letter states.

Collection boxes are already in place at several locations, including Walmart, Northbridge Town Hall in Whitinsville, Gaudette Insurance in Whitinsville and Grafton, Hannafords’ Market in Uxbridge and some  places in Worcester.

Marcelli and Bill Audette, who will chair the toy drive next year, said someone will be at the collection and drop-off center every day from around 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. until Christmas.

Last week, they went through pages and pages of records that show the name and address of each recipient and the number and ages of children in the family. In addition to families, the list includes churches in need of help for parishioners.

“People don’t understand how much goes out. It just keeps going,’’ Audette said.

“We don’t like to turn anyone away,’’ Audette said, and they serve a large area. Recipients aren’t required to show proof of need. There is trust that only those who need the help will request it.

“Just because they drive up in a new car doesn’t mean they’re living high,’’ he said. However, they must be Massachusetts residents.

“This means a lot to us,’’ Audette said, and it means even more to the people they help. “We see them leaving in tears,’’ grateful there will be toys under the tree for their children, Marcelli said.

In addition to toys, the league accepts hats and mittens and other items of clothing.

There is a particular need for cash, which is used to purchase gift cards, or gift cards themselves, which are perfect gifts for teens, Audette said.

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