The following was submitted by the Reading Fire Department:
Reading Firefighters have already started their call for donations to the Toys for Tots program this year—largely because the program is expecting a tremendous number of requests this holiday season. Reading firefighters run the Toys for Tots collection in North Reading and five other surrounding towns.
“The Marines that we work for started getting requests for toys in August,” said Reading Firefighter and Emergency Medical Technician Bob Beck.
The charity has never received requests that early, he said, and the Middlesex County chapter received more requests last year than any year before.
Beck told the Board of Selectmen Tuesday that 68,000 families requested help from the Marine-run charity in 2010, up from about 40,000 in previous years.
“That’s an awful lot of people who need help,” he said. “We’re going to need help, and we’re going to need it soon.”
Beck said he and other Reading firefighters run the Toys for Tots collection in six towns: Wakefield, Andover, Stoneham, Lynnfield, North Reading and, of course, Reading.
Already, he said, he has dropped off collection boxes at more than 120 locations across the area. The department has also already stationed a shipping container (donated, free of charge, Beck noted, by the POD company) at the fire station.
“We usually fill three pods,” he said.
As always, the charity will accept new, unwrapped toys to be given to families in need.
Those giving this year, Beck said, may want to consider gifts for infants and older teenagers, as the program has run short on those kinds of gifts in previous years. He added that gift cards make perfectly acceptable donations.
Drop-off locations in North Reading:
Psycotherapy Associates, 324 Main St.
Crowe Paradis Services Corporation, 400 Riverpark Dr.