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Toys for Tots program starts

Sgt. Roderick Usher stands at attention during Friday’s Marine Reserve Detachment’s kickoff of the Toys for Tots campaign at Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany.

Sgt. Roderick Usher stands at attention during Friday’s Marine Reserve Detachment’s kickoff of the Toys for Tots campaign at Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany.

MCLB-ALBANY — Now is the season for giving.

Area Marine reservists kicked off this year’s Toys for Tots campaign during a news conference at Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany Friday afternoon.

Toys for Tots is the largest Department of Defense outreach program. It serves as an avenue for the U.S. Marine Corps, charity organizations and the community to provide toys for underprivileged children.

The program collects new, unwrapped toys from October through December and distributes them as Christmas gifts to needy children.

“This custom, provided by the Marine Corps Reserves, helps area families receive Christmas gifts each year when hardships might make it difficult for them to provide presents to their children,” said Gunnery Sgt. Kenneth Starkey, the Albany Toys for Tots coordinator.

Last year’s Albany collection started slowly but picked up and met its goal of 4,000 toys, which were distributed to roughly 3,500 children in the Southwest Georgia area — 1,900 of whom were from the Albany area.

Officials are hoping to bring in more for this year’s campaign.

“We raise the bar a little each year,” Starkey said.

Those wishing to contribute can place an unwrapped toy that costs up to $15 in a Toys for Tots bin.

Those who need to register their children to receive a toy are required to come to the Salvation Army office at 304 W. 2nd Ave. from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday through Friday until Nov. 4.

The Toys for Tots program is open to children up to 12 years of age.

To contact the Salvation Army with further questions, call (229) 435-1428. For further information on how to donate, go to www.albany-ga.toysfortots.org or call (229) 639-8787.