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Saratoga County

Toys for Tots shopping spree

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Albany/HV: Toys for Tots shopping spree
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It’s what thousands of kids look forward to every holiday season - the Toys for Tots train’s annual run across the state. Organizers went on a shopping spree Wednesday to stock the locomotive. Our Megan Cruz was there for the ride.

COLONIE, N.Y. -- "Spend a little money!" yelled Bob Becker, as the doors to Toys 'R' Us swung open. He's a member of the Marine Corps League and the local coordinator for the Toys for Tots program.

The mission: "Gotta find something fun for the kids," said one of their members, specifically for kids who need some holiday cheer. It can be a little daunting for some: "It's tough to find something for a certain age group," said Marine Corps member Sandy Lape, but it's just been made easier with some help from Dunkin' Donuts.

Becker said, "$25,000 they're going to spend. I'll tell you, that's a load off our shoulders."

So on Wednesday, people from both organizations took to the aisles of a Toys 'R' Us. They loaded shopping carts with toys that will eventually fill their Toys for Tots train.

"Let's do some books," said Dunkin' Donut employee McKenzie Burke.

"Get two more yellow cars," said Lape.

Every year, the toy-filled train makes it's way across the state. This year, it'll go from Binghamton to Delanson on December 8th, then Albany to Rouses Point near Canada on the 9th.

This is the 4th year the two have teamed up to fill the locomotive. Becker says Dunkin's donation makes up 40 percent of the total toys they distribute a year.

"Without them, it'd put a big, big hole in our operation," he said. "We would have Toys for Tots, but it wouldn't be as big and successful."

Eric Stensland, Dunkin' Donuts' Field Marketing Manager said, "I've had the privilege to ride on the train the last 4 years and you see those smiles on those kids' face when Santa gets off the train, and they get a coat or a toy, the joy it brings is second to none."

For Lape, Dunkin's donation means he could give to kids who grew up like him.

"Grew up in the South End. Times were tough. When we were kids, we had hand-me-down clothes, hand-me-down toys, stuff like that," he said. "So to be able to do this for kids is a miracle."

Becker says because of the economy, the program has received more requests for toys this year - about 30 percent more than last year. If you'd like to contribute, visit toysfortots.org/ for some drop off locations or to learn how to make a monetary donation.

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