Santa’s got some competition.
The Community First chapter of Toys for Tots celebrated the grand finale of their toy-raising efforts this year at the 41st Assembly District Democratic Club on the boarder of Marine Park and Sheepshead Bay on Dec. 19. There the toy tallies were taken and — to no one’s surprise — it was announced that the local non-profit had collected more toys than any other community-based Toys for Tots chapter in the city — for the eighth year in a row.
“We became their highest-collecting New York City chapter eight years ago, and we’re thrilled to have hung onto the title ever since,” said Bryan Lee, who operates the Toys for Tots Community First chapter alongside Councilman Lew Fidler (D–Canarsie).
Community First’s tactic for the toy drive is simple. Whenever anyone donates anything to the Toys for Tots chapter, Community First volunteers keep their information and call back every year soliciting more funds and toys — and the holiday-time philanthropists are usually more than happy to help.
“It’s because of all the great people we’ve been able to collect, and we refuse to let them go,” said Lee. “When we found great sponsors to bring on board in 2001, we kept them on board, and never let them leave.”
In addition to the toys donated to the local Toys for Tots chapter, other generous donors sent $10,000, which Lee and his associates spend at Amazing Savings on Avenue M in Midwood.
Every year the store opens its doors early for the chapter members, who stroll gleefully throughout the store looking for bargain-priced, name-brand toys by the crate load.
“We get the pick of the litter,” said Lee.
After the toys were tallied, they were loaded onto Marine Corps trucks, who had the more difficult task of dropping off the toys to kids across Brooklyn in the remaining days before Christmas.
“We have the easy part,” said Lee. “We collect the toys, raise the money and buy the toys, but it’s the marines who really do the major leg work and distribute the toys to needy families.”