Need is greater this year for Toys for Tots

Milford firefighters, who organize the annual Toys for Tots drive, believe the need for local families will be even greater this year due to Hurricane Sandy, and they are asking people who are able to boost their toy and cash donations this year to do so.

Firefighter Jason Hall, who heads the local toy drive with fellow firefighters Brian Colwell, Jack Geary and Mike Geanacopoulos, said toys are usually distributed to 300 Milford families. He expects that number will be closer to 400 this year, maybe even higher, because Sandy devastated much of the shoreline area.

“We want to reach out to all the victims of Sandy,” Hall said. “From Irene and Sandy, many homes here were devastated. People lost everything, and we are here to help.”

People can drop off new, unwrapped toys or books at any Milford fire station. Checks may be sent to Toys for Tots, Station 7, 55 Wheelers Farm Road, Milford, Ct. 06461.

The way the program works, the firefighters have their cache of toys already stocked by this time of year. Additional toy donations supplement the stock, and monetary donations go toward funding the following year’s program.

But with the need higher, the existing collection of toys might need even more supplementing.

Not to worry though, Hall said the Toys for Tots program has never fallen short.

“Worse case scenario, we go out and buy things ourselves,” Hall said.

Retired firefighter Butch Torento started the Milford-based Toys for Tots program 47 years ago. Torento often said that he had grown up without holiday toys and he didn’t want others to go without as he had.

The annual toy drive is sponsored by Milford Professional Firefighters Association Local 944.

Any family who needs assistance should call 203-874-6783 after Nov. 30. The program is confidential.