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Toys traded for coffee at Albany toy drive at Hilton

Boxes of toys collected for less fortunate children during the one-day event

Hannah Cate Collins and her mother, Keleigh Collins, deliver gifts for the Toys for Tots toy drive at downtown Albany’s Hilton Garden Inn Tuesday. (Staff photo: Laura Williams)

Hannah Cate Collins and her mother, Keleigh Collins, deliver gifts for the Toys for Tots toy drive at downtown Albany’s Hilton Garden Inn Tuesday. (Staff photo: Laura Williams)

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Frank Wilson accepts a donated toy from Shawn Medlock and her daughter Andrea during a one-day toy drive at the downtown Albany Hilton Garden Inn Tuesday. (Staff photo: Carlton Fletcher)

ALBANY — Frank Wilson loves the Christmas season, and he was in a particularly jolly mood Tuesday afternoon after seeing four big boxes of toys delivered to the Hilton Garden Inn as part of his, businesswoman B.J. Fletcher’s and Albany Area Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Director Leland Burkart’s impromptu Toys for Tots collection.

Wilson even took a good-natured poke at his colleague.

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Volunteer Carolyn Brannon, right, is presented a Barbie doll by Pam Sheridan during a toy drive Tuesday benefiting Toys for Tots and sponsored by the Albany Civil Rights Institute, the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce and the Hilton Garden Inn. (Staff photo: Carlton Fletcher)

“I guess this proves there’s a lot of ‘spiritedness’ in Albany,” Wilson joked, referencing a word created by Fletcher for an Albany Herald story announcing the toy drive. “All kidding aside, this shows that we live in a caring community. When you put it out there that there is a need, the people of this area respond.”

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From left, Keleigh Collins, Hannah Cate Collins, and Grace Collins came by Albany’s Hilton Garden Inn Tuesday to deliver toys for needy children. (Staff photo: Laura Williams)

Volunteers from the Albany Civil Rights Institute, which Wilson heads, the Chamber and the Hilton met drivers as they pulled into the roundabout in front of the downtown hotel, offering the gift-givers cups of free coffee as thanks for the toys. Baby dolls, plushies and just about any other kind of kids’ favorite imaginable were dropped off at the hotel, earmarked for the homes of children who might not otherwise be visited by Santa Claus on Christmas Eve night.

“We heard about (the toy drive) from a friend, and since we had to go to an eye doctor’s appointment this afternoon, we wanted to come by and drop off a toy,” Shawn Medlock said after she and daughter Andrea brought a new toy by the Hilton. “I think this is a really good thing for our community.”

Volunteer Carolyn Brannon, who accepted a new toy from Pam Sheridan around 2:30 p.m., said the spirit of the community is a gift that will keep on giving.

“The outpouring of support (for the drive) shows that we have a giving community,” Brannon said. “The great thing about this is that these toys are going to allow some needy kids to have a happy Christmas. And when you get down to it, that’s what this is all about.”