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Toy train on track

Toys for Tots campaign kicks off early with hopes of upping donations by 25 percent

Sgt. Albert Roman, a retired marine and coordinator of the local Toys for Tots campaign, kicks-off the annual toy drive for the region on Friday, Oct. 4, at Integra Networks in Colonie.

Sgt. Albert Roman, a retired marine and coordinator of the local Toys for Tots campaign, kicks-off the annual toy drive for the region on Friday, Oct. 4, at Integra Networks in Colonie. Photo by Marcy Velte.

— Santa’s helpers are working overtime this year.

The local Toys for Tots program kicked off its holiday campaign more than a month early this year. Representatives of the Marine Corps Reserves’ Dunkin’ Donuts Toys for Tots Train made the announcements on Friday, Oct. 4, at Integra Networks on the grounds of Albany International Airport.

This year’s initiative is beginning earlier than usual in order to help more Capital District children have a merry Christmas. Last year, the campaign kicked off at the end of October.

“This is a milestone year for us,” said Sgt. Albert Roman, a retired U.S. Marine and local Toys for Tots campaign coordinator. “The Toys for Tots train marks its 15th anniversary. … Dunkin’ Donuts saved the train from derailment in 2009 and has been a wonderful partner ever since.”

This is the fifth year Dunkin’ Donuts has donated money to the holiday campaign to keep the train on schedule. This year, $30,000 from the company and franchise owners is being given to bring the five-year total to $140,000. Canadian Pacific and Amtrak will operate the train and travel to 12 communities throughout the state.

“Dunkin’ Donuts is honored to help keep this outstanding initiative on track,” said Eric Stensland, field marketing manager for Dunkin’ Donuts. “Our Capital Region franchisees are grateful for the work of the dedicated Marines who bring so much joy to so many children.”

New, unwrapped toys can be dropped off at more than 400 locations throughout the Capital District, along with more than 100 Dunkin’ Donuts stores. Winter coats will also be collected as a component of the drive.

This year, volunteers are hoping that by starting early, they can achieve a 25 percent increase in donations. That would mean a total of 200,000 children in the area would be given toys this holiday season who otherwise wouldn’t have.

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