Toys donated to children in need

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BRATTLEBORO — Deputies with the Windham County Sheriff's Office and members of the Marine Corps League braved the cold on Saturday to help families in need by hosting the annual Stuff the Humvee toy drive.

Sgt. Chris Wolan and Deputy First Class Brett Gaylord spent six hours in the cold packing toys into the Humvee and then into a truck to take them to the Marine Corps League.

The gang was parked on the edge of the Price Chopper parking lot, on Canal Street. The cop cars had their lights on to let passersby know what was going on. People stopped by to unload pounds of toys. Others rolled down their car windows to hand out everything from $5 to $100.

"It's that time of year when everyone gives a little extra," Gaylord said. His favorite part is when children come with their parents to give out toys.

"They get all in it, so that's fun," he said.

Mark Hynes, from the Marine Corps League, said one little boy wanted to bring toys to donate because he knew that he received toys for Christmas and wanted other children to get them, too.

Richard Hodgdon, from the Marine Corps League, said that each child who donated was given a candy cane. Most of the families who donate do so every year, Gaylord said.

"It's fun. We enjoy doing it, even though my toes are frozen," he said.

Stuff the Humvee is a part of the Marine Corps League's Toys for Kids program. Hodgdon said there are more than 300 families signed up for the program.

Families call the Marine Corps League and make an appointment to pick out two new toys for their children. Families are able to make appointments by calling Hodgdon until Friday.

"It's just like shopping," Hodgdon said.

Gaylord said the event receives a variety of toys. "It's a hodgepodge," he said.

The Toys for Kids event was started as a way to keep toy donations local. The toys go to children all over Windham County.

In recent years, Hodgdon said, there's been a growing need for toys as more and more Windham County families struggle financially. So far the community continues to meet that need.

"I think it's a giving community," he said.

Hodgdon said people are conscious of taking care of their home community first, before they take care of others.

"It's something that needs to happen," Hodgdon said. "We like to think we make a little difference."

To find out more about donations call Hodgdon at 802-380-2746, or email him at hodge8762@gmail.com.

Harmony Birch can be reached at hbirch@reformer.com, at @Birchharmony on Twitter and 802-254-2311, Ext. 153.

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