The Broome County Toys for Tots program, which has been operating since 1962 through rain, snow, sleet, economic boom and bust and even a global pandemic, is back playing Santa's Helper for 2021.

Broome County Toys for Tots coordinator Binghamton Police Officer Chris Marshall is on the weekly, local public affairs program, Southern Tier Close Up to outline the schedule and procedures for this year's program.

Kathy Whyte/WNBF News- Broome Toys for Tots coordinator Officer Chris Marshall
Kathy Whyte/WNBF News- Broome Toys for Tots coordinator Officer Chris Marshall

Officer Marshall has been collecting toys and stashing them at Binghamton City Hall for the past several months in preparation for the big collection, sign up and, finally, distribution of toys to hundreds of Broome County children.

When he signed up to oversee the local Toys for Tots about three years go, the Binghamton Policeman, of course, had no way of knowing the challenges that would be thrown at the 59-year-old program in the form of COVID-19.  The program quickly adapted to constantly changing information and protocols and still came through for the hundreds of Broome County children who might otherwise be left without a toy for the holidays.

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One challenge that continues to face the local program is making sure people are aware there is a difference between Broome County Toys for Tots that give gifts only to LOCAL children and another program that operates throughout the U.S.

People wanting to donate new, unwrapped toys to go to children in Broome County should look for donation barrels at local police agencies and Broome County Sheriff's office. Other barrels for the local program are positioned at other businesses and bear the logo of Broome County Toys for Tots with a carousel horse pictured in the center.

Police are also having their Fill the Cruiser drive to fill as many squad cars as possible with toys on December 4 from 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. at the Vestal Walmart.

Broome County Toys for Tots is headquartered at the Oakdale Mall in Johnson City in the former Payless shoe store at the end of the mall where Macy's used to be and will be taking monetary and toy donations November 29-December 20.

You can hear more details about signing up and donating on Southern Tier Close Up and on the Broome County Toys for Tots Facebook page.

Southern Tier Close Up is heard Sunday at 6 a.m. on 99.1 The Whale.

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