Toys for Toga donates 3,000 toys, $20,000 to area kids

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Toys for Toga donated more than 3,000 toys and $20,000 in gift cards on Wednesday with the help of more than 90 local businesses.

These donations will be going to three Saratoga County community charities.

“Last year was a hugely successful campaign for toys for toga. We set records for toys and donations given to the three beneficiaries and we thought it couldn’t get any better,” said Carmine DeCrescente III, vice president of DeCrescente Distributing Company and a longtime member of Toys for Toga who organizes the program and distributes toy bins across Saratoga County.

“But this year, Saratoga County businesses proved that when it comes time for giving back we’re just getting started. From day one we had so many organizations reaching out asking how they could help.”

One big contributor was Death Wish Coffee, also a sponsor of the event, which not only participated by giving away 1,500 bags of coffee in exchange for toys at events and locations across Saratoga County but also donated $15,000 in gifts specifically for local teenagers who are an underprovided group in the holiday donation drive.

“We try to focus on both groups, but we want to make sure that we don’t forget that many of these older kids are being left out when it comes to these toy-collected programs,” Eric Donovan, community engagement director of Death Wish Coffee, said. “With the money we did this donation with, we went out and purchased computers and tablets to donate, stuff that not only entertains older kids but also gives them a leg up in their education and keeps them kind of current.

“So it in a way doubles as both the entertainment they need to enjoy the holidays but also resources as they build their career.”

Donovan acknowledged they enjoy participating in Toys for Toga because it is a way they can give back to the community. It means a lot to Death Wish because it has grown up in this community and owes a lot to it, and it wants to make sure it can give back in any way possible.

Druthers Brewing Company was also acknowledged for its support. Its Druthers Toys for Toga Winter Ale, produced exclusively for this program, generated donations for the beneficiaries with a portion of each sale being contributed.

One of the new businesses that joined in with supporting Toys for Toga this year was Ball Corporations which selected this program as a cause it would support this holiday season. The business, along with its employees, raised more than $2,000 this year and donated hundreds of toys.

There was also a wide range of fundraising events, like this year’s Victorian Streetwalk, at several locations including Franklin Square market, Quick Response Restoration, G Willikers Toys, Dunning Street Station, The Horseshoe Inn, DZ Restaurants and more. DeCrescente acknowledged if not for these events and supporting businesses, Toys for Toga would not be as successful.

“I think probably the biggest change that has happened is that when we started the program it was generally geared towards bars and restaurants, Saratoga Brewing actually started it and we helped with our distribution means, and primarily what has happened is we have gotten so many different types of businesses that want to participate,” DeCrescente said regarding the transformation of the program and outside involvement over the 11 years it has been operating.

“Whether it is a hair salon, Saratoga Central School was here, there’s a rock city club that does it — people come out and say they want to help. We keep finding people and companies that want to help and it just keeps growing. It is a domino effect.”

In attendance to help load the trucks for distribution were members of Saratoga Central Catholic School’s National Honor Society and Junior Honor Society who put on a toys drive of their own and chose to contribute those toys to Toys for Toga.

The three local charities that the toys were being brought to on Wednesday were Franklin Community Center in Saratoga Springs, CAPTAIN Community Human Services in Clifton Park and Mechanicville Area Community Services Center. Once the toys arrived, the organizations would distribute them to local families throughout the coming weeks leading up to Christmas.

Businesses who would like to participate in Toys for Toga next year can reach out to Roberto Cruz, Communications Manager at DeCrescente Distributing, at [email protected] or by phone at 518-539-2035. For more information, visit www.toysfortoga.com.

“I think it is just important that no kid goes without being able to open up something on Christmas,” DeCrescente said. “At one time we were all kids and we knew the joy of Santa coming to town and I just want every kid to have a happy holiday season.”