Hundreds of children in need will get holiday gifts this weekend, thanks to the actions of local sheriffs who put together a truck convoy to replace a Toys for Tots train that won’t come through the region this month.
The convoy of six tractor-trailers will distribute more than 28,000 toys to children on Sunday, starting in Saratoga Springs and working north to the Canadian border, mirroring the route that the former Toys for Tots train took. Amtrak announced in August that the charter train used for the effort would not be available this year.
The effort started with Saratoga County Sheriff Michael Zurlo, who transformed an annual Marine Corps Toys for Tots effort into a major production that will replicate the toy train with stops in Saratoga Springs, Fort Edward, Ticonderoga and points north.
“We didn’t have the train this year, so the Marines came to me and we came up with idea to use trucks instead,” Zurlo said. “It’s worked out great. We set a record for the toy donations this year.”
Dubbed the “Capital Region Toys for Tots Northern New York Sheriffs Coalition Road Train,” it will kick off at 9 a.m. with a distribution in Saratoga Springs and move north from there.
“It basically follows the route the train did,” Washington County Sheriff Jeff Murphy said.
So six tractor-trailers loaded with donated toys will make their way from a collection point in Saratoga County, with volunteers accompanying them to meet with families who may not have much of a Christmas for their children otherwise.
Toys for Tots works annually with community service organizations to identify families that could use help, but Murphy said the stops are open to anyone in need, including those who hadn’t been contacted on behalf of Toys for Tots.
Sunday’s convoy schedule and stops are:
- 9 a.m. at Maple Avenue Middle School in Saratoga Springs;
- 10:30 a.m. at Washington County Municipal Center in Fort Edward;
- 12:30 p.m. at the former Lowe’s parking lot on Wicker Street, next to Walmart, in Ticonderoga;
- Stops will follow in Lewis, Keeseville and Rouses Point later Sunday afternoon.
Upstate Transit donated the use of two tour buses to carry volunteers to the distribution locations.
In addition to toys, Freihofer’s will be distributing cookies and Dunkin’ will have doughnuts and coffee.
Dunkin’, formerly known as Dunkin’ Donuts, donated $30,000 to the effort to buy toys and winter coats.