SOMERVILLE, NJ – The Somerset County Sheriff's Office, the Somerset Patriots baseball team and the U.S Marines Toys for Tots Foundation are sponsoring a 2020 Toys for Tots collection drive that will enable children who are in need to receive Christmas gifts.

Toy donations can be dropped off inside the vestibule at the entrance to the county Administration Building, located at 20 Grove St., Somerville, NJ 08876. Toys can be dropped off through Friday, Dec. 11, between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., weekdays.

The Patriots will also be collecting beginning Dec. 1 through Saturday, Dec. 12 at TD Bank Ballpark, 1 Patriots Way, Bridgewater., Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and Saturday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

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“So many families are feeling the emotional and economic impact of COVID and can use a little extra hope for Christmas,” said Somerset County Sheriff Darrin J. Russo. “Residents can make a difference and help fill children’s hearts with joy by donating.

“Thank you to all of those residents and employees in Somerset County who have been so generous by supporting this cause in the past, and who will donate this year,” he added.

“We would usually host an event for the holidays in the Team Store, but we felt for the safety of our fans and staff, that we would transition to more of an ongoing collection this year,” said Patrick McVerry., Patriots president/general manager  “In following all New Jersey’s COVID-19 guidelines, this is the best way for us to keep everyone safe and continue our tradition of helping those in need around the holidays.

“While this will be a different way to do the event in 2020, it is the right way,” said Patriots Manager Emeritus Sparky Lyle, who usually attends the annual event to meet fans and sign autographs. “We need to follow the state guidelines and do our part to keep people safe. I look forward to seeing everyone again soon at the ballpark in what is already shaping up to be an incredible year.”

Toy donations should be new or unwrapped, safe (non-choking hazard toys for infants and toddlers) and age-appropriate for both boys and girls.  The ages of gift recipients range from newborn up to 14-years of age. Toy gun replicas and gift cards will NOT be accepted.

For more information about Toys for Tots donations, contact Sheriff’s Officer Joe Bialiy at 908- 231-7197, email Bialiy@co.somerset.nj.us, or visit www.toysfortots.org. 

Toys for Tots began in 1947 as the brain child of Marine Corps Reserve Major Bill Hendricks. Actually it was his wife, Diane, who was the real inspiration. She had a few handcrafted dolls and asked Bill to deliver them to an agency that supports children in need.

When Bill reported back to his wife that he could not find such an organization, she instructed him to “start one!”. Maj Hendricks and the Marines in his reserve unit in LA collected and distributed 5,000 toys in 1947.

Seeing such successful community engagement in 1947, the Commandant directed all Marine Reserve Sites to implement a TFT campaign transforming it into a national community action program in 1948.

Hendrick’s civilian job was Director of Public Relations at Warner Brothers Studios. He was friends with many celebrities who he asked to help support the newly created Marine Toys for Tots Program. As a personal friend and as a favor to Bill, Walt Disney designed the first Toys for Tots poster which included a miniature three-car train that was subsequently adopted as the Toys for Tots logo.

The Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, an IRS recognized 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit charity, was established in 1991 at the behest of the Marine Corps to help run and support the Marine Toys for Tots Program.

The Foundation raises funds, purchases toys, provides promotional and support materials, manages all funds raised and donated, solicits corporate support, educates the public, and handles day-to-day operations.

Presently, the Marine Toys for Tots Program distributes an average of 18 million toys to 7 million less fortunate children annually.