PARSIPPANY, NJ - If there’s one thing that goes around during the holiday, it’s a ton of toy drives. And last Sunday, December 8th, the ladies of Auxiliary Unit for Lake Hiawatha’s American Legion Post 249 held their annual Toys For Tots for the local community.

The Toys For Tots event has been held at the American Legion for the past 10 years and has been a venue for family-friendly holiday fun.

“This is fantastic,” said John Smith, from Parsippany, who came with his wife Colleen and daughter Emily to not only have fun but volunteer to organize things up for the toy drive. “The ladies of the Auxiliary Unit do a great job and we’re delighted that we can offer support.”

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Among activities at the legion, there were tables set up for kids and their parents to make their own Christmas ornaments or decorate their own cupcakes. More importantly, there was a tree set up on the music stage with hundreds of donated toys surrounding it. And the Smith family was happy to see everyone having a good time.

“I feel really good being able to give back,” said 12-year-old Emily Smith, who helped set up tables for arts n’ crafts. “I enjoy helping at the toy drive and seeing the looks on everyone’s faces when they see Santa Claus.”

Indeed, Santa Claus came to the town of Lake Hiawatha, along with Mrs. Claus. Soon enough, the kids poured into the legion hall, forming a long line to the Clauses.

“I think this Christmas event is great,” said Adam Faccone, who came from Bridgewater with his wife Caitlin and their two-year-old son Jackson. “This embodies the holiday spirit and what Christmas represents. This is a great opportunity to give back this time of the year for kids who are underprivileged or just can’t enjoy the holidays.”

All afternoon, over 70 people came in and out of the American Legion. After depositing their donated toy, attendants were given a free meal of hot dogs, chicken nuggets, mac n’ cheese and tatter tots. Eventually after lunch, a face painting station was set up!

Post 249 has held many kinds of community events at its facilities, with themes like pasta night, country barbecue and music concert, fish n’ chips and other holidays. And at the Toys For Tots event, legion members were able to collect 450 toys during their drive.