Local firefighters kicked off the annual Toys for Tots campaign recently and are ready to accept new unwrapped toys and monetary donations to make sure Milford children get gifts for Christmas.

Firefighter Jason Hall, who heads the local toy drive with fellow firefighters Brian Colwell, Jack Geary and Mike Geanacopoulos, said the need is still high, despite some reports that the economy is improving.

“I can’t see that we’ve made a lot of improvement,” Hall said. “People are still out of work, and other people are working harder and doing with a lot less.”

Toys will be distributed to about 300 Milford families.

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 a 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.

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.