Marine Veterans fill Ridgefield facility with toys for tots

The Marine Veterans of Fairfield County are filling their headquarters in Ridgefleld with toys, to be distributed to needy children through local charities.

The Marine Veterans of Fairfield County are filling their headquarters in Ridgefleld with toys, to be distributed to needy children through local charities.

Contributed photo

“We are set up at our distribution center. We’ve got a bunch of toys in. And we’re reaching out to the charities and inviting them in,” said Henry Norley of the Marine Veterans of Fairfield County.

The Ridgefield-based group — a successor organization to the Ridgefield Marine Corps League — is continuing its tradition of serving as a regional hub for the Toys for Tots program.

It’s part of a nationwide campaign that collects new, unwrapped toys and distributes them to needy families and children before Christmas, through local charities.

“We’ve got Toys for Tots collection boxes out,” Norley said. “We’re collecting toys all over the towns that we serve.”

The toy collection boxes will be out for a couple of more weeks.

“We’re going to pull the boxes on Dec. 15 — we pull them before Christmas so we have time to get the toys to the charities so they can get things sorted and get everything to the parents.

Toys for Tots collections

Here's a list by town of Toys for Tots collection box locations.

Bethel

Century 21, 2 Stony Hill Road #101

Ring's End Lumber, 9 Taylor Ave.

Sycamore Drive-In Restaurant, 282 Greenwood Ave.

Wireless Zone, 128 Greenwood Ave.

Brookfield

Ashley Homestore, 273 Federal Road

Defeo Manufacturing, 115 Commerce

Lazy Boy - 18 Federal Road

Newbury Village, Federal Road

O'Connor's Public House, 317 Federal Road

Pizzeria Bello, 317 Federal Road, Unit E

The Tile Shop,n 18 Federal Road

Danbury

Center for Pediatric Medicine, 107 Newtown Road, Suite 1D

Colonial Ford, 126 Federal Road

Colonial Mazda, 100 Federal Road

Colonial Subaru, 120 Federal Road

Danbury Dodge, 100 Federal Road

Danbury Hyundai, 100 Federal Road

Danbury Volkswagen, 29 Sugar Hollow Road

Disney Store, Danbury Fair Mall, 7 Backus Ave.

Five Below, 15 Backus Ave.

Ingersol Auto, 84 Federal Road

Honda of Danbury, 100 Federal Road

Morganti Group, 100 Mill Plain Road

TGM Willow Grove, 48 Briar Ridge Road

Wireless Zone, 109 Federal Road

Volvo of Danbury, 106 Newtown Road

Premier Collision Center, 52 Newtown Road

Colonial Ford, 126 Federal Road

Wireless Zone, 68 Newtown Road

New Fairfield

New Life Church, 1 Beaver Bog Road

Public Library, 2 Brush Hill Road

Stop & Shop, 25 State Route 39

Webster Bank, 1 Brush Hill Road

New Milford

Club 24, 164 Danbury Road

Rings End, 140 Danbury Road

Newtown

Coldwell Banker, 45 South Main St.

National Shooting Sports Foundation - 11 Mile High Rd.

Berkshire Hathaway Realtors, 84 A South Main St.

Society of Plastics Engineers, 13 Church Hill Road

Children's Adventure Center, 14 Riverside Road, Sandy Hook

Newtown Hardware, 61 Church Hill Road

Newtown Police Dept., 3 Main St.

Newtown Youth Academy, 4 Primose Lane

Dr. John Popowich, 71 South Main St.

Cannon Ridge Training Center, 3 Simms Lane

Dodingtown Fire Dept., 55 Dodington Road

William Pitt-Sotheby's Realty, 17 Church Hill Road

State Farm, 23 Barnabas Road

Ridgefield

Ace Tire, 861 Ethan Allen Hwy.

Bissells Pharmacy, 23 Governor St.

Coldwell Banker, 398 Main St.

Cubesmart, 832 Ethan Allen Hwy.

Edward Jones, 86 Danbury Road

Reynolds & Rowella CPAs, 90 Grove St.

Ridgefield Bank, Main Office, 150 Danbury Road

Ridgefield Fire Dept., 6 Catoonah St.

Pamby Motors, Danbury Road

The Toy Chest, 441 Main St.

The UPS Store, 54 Danbury Road

Wilton

Cubesmart, 111 Danbury Road

Bruce Bennett Nissan, 978 Danbury Road

Wilton - Fire Department, 236 Danbury Road

Hoffman Landscaping, 647 Danbury Road

Rings End, 129 Danbury Road

Starbucks, 21 River Road #100

Toozy Patza Pizza, 991 Danbury Road

Wilton Family Y, 404 Danbury Road

Wilton Pizza, 202 Town Green

Weston

Weston Police Department, 56 Norfield Road.

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased need by putting people out of work, and has simultaneously complicated both toy collection and distribution efforts.

“There’s a lot of need out there,” he said.

“We’ve had some school counselors in and they’re saying they’re taking twice as many families as last year ... ”

Norley said the group had received about 4,000 to 5,000 toys so far this year, and in recent years usually collects and distributes in the vicinity of 25,000 to 30,000 toys.

“We have a couple of charities. They would normally have an event, or the kids would be coming in, that they serve. But now people can’t assemble or get together,” Norley said.

“So, they’re finding other ways to do it — giving out toys to individuals, or the parents, or just having drive-up situations. “It’s kind of evolving.”

Still, the Marines work with area churches, town social services departments. School guidance counselors and other contacts at local charities that pick up toys for clients on their lists.

“We let the charity select two toys and stocking-stuffers for each child on their client list,” Norley said.

“Because we don’t have the ability to screen requests, parents and guardians need to place request through their church or local charity.”

The Marine veterans have mounted a sizable effort to collect, sort and distribute the toys.

“I would say the total of my very active volunteers is about 25, in towns that we serve,” Norley said.

“We’ve got well over 100 boxes out. It’s a little difficult this year.”

One of the major means of collecting toys was through boxes set out in participating workplaces. Employees buy toys, take them to work and put them in the box — or people would bring toys to holiday parties at workplaces.

But this year things are different.

“All their folks are working from home,” Norley said.

“It’s a challenge this year, it really is. But our guys are really dedicated. They’re hanging in.”