WILTON — Wilton firefighters and police officers will once again be collecting toys for the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots campaign.

To comply with COVID-19 guidelines, a blue drop box has been placed on the south side of fire headquarters near the main office entrance, at 236 Danbury Road. Residents may leave new, unwrapped toys inside the box and firefighters will retrieve them throughout the day.

Toys will be collected through Tuesday, Dec. 15.

Anyone bringing a donation larger than the drop box will accommodate, may call the fire department at 203-834-6246 for instructions on where and how to leave the toy. For questions email Fire Capt. Brian Elliott at Brian.Elliott@wiltonct.org.

It has been a challenging year for the Ridgefield Marines, who are in charge of the toy drive in this area. As with every other service organization in Fairfield County, they have conducted their regular community activities in the face of both the economic downturn and the COVID-19 pandemic, a press release said.

With the opening weeks of their Toys for Tots campaign program, the Marine Veterans of Fairfield County must pick up, organize and properly distribute the thousands of new toys that pass through their Ridgefield headquarters building every year in the weeks before Christmas.

In 2019, the Marines collected and distributed more than 30,000 unwrapped games, dolls, footballs, skateboards and dozens of other toys and sports items. The need is expected to be greater this year because of the pandemic, but getting the job done is expected to be tougher because of health restrictions, a press release said.

This year, because of economic and health concerns, at least 10 percent more toys need to be donated and distributed.

Henry Norley, who is a longtime member of the Marine organization and a coordinator of the Toys for Tots campaign program that includes a dozen communities in Fairfield County, says the Marines must be very careful in controlling the distribution.

“It might seem easy to simply dump 30,000 toys into our area, but we need to assure they go to the neediest children,” Norley said. “We’re very fortunate to work closely with a great group of fire and police chiefs, school and social services officials and church leaders to make sure this program works the way it should.

“Sometimes these are the only toys these kids get all year, and that puts a huge responsibility on us and our partners to get it right,” he said.

For toy collection locations beyond the Wilton firehouse, people may visit toysfortots.org and click on the town where they live.

The towns for the Marines Veterans of Fairfield County Toys for Tots campaign program, according to its website are: Bethel, Wilton, Brookfield, Danbury, New Fairfield, New Milford, Newtown, Ridgefield and Weston.