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Greenwich Plays Santa for Toys for Tots

Between 1,500 and 2,000 toys were collected in Greenwich's Toys for Tots campaign.

Volunteers, including Santa, load donated toys for the Toys for Tots campaign at the Cos Cob Volunteer Fire Department, Dec. 14, 2013. Photo credit: Barbara Heins.
Volunteers, including Santa, load donated toys for the Toys for Tots campaign at the Cos Cob Volunteer Fire Department, Dec. 14, 2013. Photo credit: Barbara Heins.

The blowing snow didn't deter a band of Greenwich residents and volunteers from opening their hearts for the annual Toys for Tots campaign.

Ronnie and Jack Kriskey of Banksville were overwhelmed by the generosity of residents who dropped by with unwrapped toys for the annual holiday program held at the Cos Cob Volunteer Fire Department and the Banksville Community Center.

By noon Saturday, the prisoner van — on loan from the Greenwich Police Department — was more than half-full with dolls, toy trucks and just about everything else that could be found on a child's Christmas wish list. From Cos Cob, the group — including a rather jolly Santa portrayed by Gary Statham — was headed up to Banksville, in the Greenwich backcountry, where more residents dropped by to donate toys and decorated holiday cookies. It was there that Kriskey said they also would use a truck donated by the Glenville Volunteer Fire Department for the toys.

The local departments pitched in this year because budget cuts prevented the U.S. Marine Corps, which sponsors the Toys for Tots campaign, from supplying the trucks needed for the pickup.

Jack Kriskey said he and his wife Ronnie took over the drive after donations waned in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. And with their connections in town, they were able to continue the tradition.

"It started small in Banksville and then we came to Cos Cob ... we tried the different fire departments, but in Cos Cob, we've had the best response," Jack Kriskey said. "We thought what we could see and do and the community wouldn't let it go. It's really rewarding."

"The Cos Cob community is awesome," he added.

The toys will be brought to the U.S. Marines collection center in Stamford where they will be sorted by age and gender, Jack Kriskey said.

Toys will be distributed to local social service agencies including the Greenwich Social Services Department and the Boys and Girls Club of Greenwich, which have submitted their own wish lists for their clients, according to Kriskey.

"It's all really rewarding with the volunteers," said Kerrin Coyle, who's worked with the Kriskeys for eight years.


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