WALLINGFORD — Almost 30 years ago, two friends who share a December birthday decided to forgo a joint party and host a toy drive instead.
After several successful years, Holly Lafond and James Fitzsimmons partnered with the U.S. Marine Corps’ Toys For Tots program and opened their annual toy drive to the public.
Their annual donation event is scheduled for 5:30-9 p.m. Thursday at Gaetano’s Tavern on Main, 40 N. Main St. with music, appetizers and cash bar.
Last year the group collected about 6,150 toys, Lafond said, to be donated to needy children in New Haven County.
Every year their goal is to top the number of toys collected the previous year, and in 27 years they’ve always been successful, she said.
However, this year the number of available toys seems to be dwindling.
Lafond said the Wallingford warehouse where the Marines store toys for New Haven County recently closed because they’re out of toys for ages 6 and older.
“I’ve never heard of this happening before,” she said, “and we’re two weeks until Christmas.”
The toy charity took a hit earlier this month in Bridgeport, where about $80,000 worth of donated toys was stolen.
This year, Lafond said, they need help closing the gap.
“We’re always happy with as many toys as we receive on that night,” she said of Thursday’s event.
Toys for Tots collects new, unwrapped toys for children age 18 and younger.