The United States Marine Corps Reserve and Dunkin’ today launched the 2023 edition of the Capital Region Toys for Tots program with the groundbreaking announcement of the return of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Dunkin’ Toys for Tots Train. The return of the train follows a four-year hiatus during which toys and holiday cheer were delivered to children and families in need by way of a tractor-trailer convoy.
Today’s announcement was punctuated by a $25,000 donation from Dunkin’ and its Capital Region franchisees, marking the 15th consecutive year that Dunkin’ has supported the signature holiday initiative. The donation will be used by the Marine Corps Reserve to help deliver toys to children in communities throughout Upstate New York and brings Dunkin’s total support of the holiday collection campaign to $425,000 since 2009. This year also marks the 76th anniversary of the Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Toys program.
“Dunkin’ is honored to contribute to the efforts of the Marine Corps Reserve and its signature holiday initiative,” said Capital Region Dunkin’ franchisee Natasha Teixeira. “We are thrilled about the comeback of the Marine Corps Reserve Dunkin’ Toys for Tots Train, which is itself a vehicle of celebration and holiday spirit. Bringing joy to children is a goal Dunkin’ strives to accomplish throughout the year and especially during the holiday season.”
The Marine Corps Reserve Dunkin’ Toys for Tots Train, which made its last journey in 2018, became a cherished tradition for more than a decade. Large crowds of children and adults turned out at each designated depot to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus, and receive toys in addition to hot chocolate and baked goods from Dunkin’. However, in 2019 delivery of the toys fully transitioned from the rails to the highway and a convoy of trucks.
The holiday train will take to the rails on Dec. 2 and 3 in partnership with Amtrak, Norfolk Southern Railway, Canadian Pacific Railway and train owner Bennett Levin.
The 2023 toy collection drive will take place at approximately 400 locations throughout the area. These include more than 100 Dunkin’ restaurants, which will serve as drop-off points for guests wishing to donate new, unwrapped toys.
Capital Region Toys for Tots and the Marine Corps Reserve will work with more than 250 community agencies in 14 counties across the state to serve more than 200,000 children this holiday season.
“We are grateful to our most longstanding and loyal partner, Dunkin’, for 15 years of unwavering support totaling well in excess of $400,000 to underwrite our mission of delivering cheer to those in need during the holiday season,” said Marine Corps Reserve Staff Sgt. Pat Lurenz, local coordinator of the Capital Region Toys for Tots campaign. “The enormous generosity of the Capital Region community, Dunkin’ and numerous other local companies and organizations will help bring new toys to thousands of children across New York this holiday season. And we are equally grateful for new partnerships that have made it possible to bring back the holiday train to deliver these gifts as well as a new warehouse to serve as the program’s home base.”
Last year, Capital Region Toys for Tots received an in-kind donation of a warehouse from Mechanicville business owner Kevin Koval of Adirondack Basement Systems, which put an end to the somewhat nomadic existence of the program and its storage needs prior to that time. Going forward, the warehouse at 80 Sheehan Street in Mechanicville will serve as the home for toy storage year-round and the hub for all local Toys for Tots activities and volunteers. It has been offered to the Capital Region Toys for Tots program rent-free for the next decade, courtesy of Koval.
Additionally, Dunkin’ will keep warehouse volunteers running this holiday season through donations of donuts and coffee as they organize, sort and wrap toys.
Representatives from Capital Region Toys for Tots and Dunkin’ were joined by area campaign supporters for today’s kick-off event at the new warehouse for the holiday campaign and to welcome the return of the Marine Corps Reserve Dunkin’ Toys for Tots Train.
The Toys for Tots Foundation receives additional support from numerous companies and organizations throughout the greater Capital Region, including Alpin Haus, Amtrak, Auto Solutions, Brown Coach, Capital District Transportation Authority, Clifton Park Halfmoon EMS, Canadian Pacific Railway, Gilhooley Designs, Ltd., iHeart Media, Juniata Terminal, Norfolk Southern Railway, Robert’s Towing and Recovery, Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office, SEFCU, Seymour’s Motorized Sports, Sondra’s Fine Jewelry, South Colonie Central School District, WPYX 106 Quinn & Cantera and Upstate Transit of Saratoga, LLC.