Toys for Tots drive falling behind last year's collection

It didn’t take long for a few firefighters and a couple of U.S. Marine Corps veterans to load up a U-Haul truck with all the toys collected in Wilton this season during the Wilton Fire Department’s annual Toys for Tots drive.
That’s because there were only 600 toys, packed in large plastic bags and spread out on a tarmac in the fire department’s pumper truck garage bay. That is down from 1,800 collected last year.
The firefighters were wondering what happened, between last year and now. Some blamed the way Christmas falls this year on a Sunday, possibly making people wait until the last minute to make their contribution of a new, unwrapped toy in the many donation boxes around town, including the fire stations and the police station.
“There is still time for people to donate. We are hoping we get more donations before Christmas,” said Capt. Brian Elliott. Wilton police are sponsoring Stuff-A-Cruiser with toys on Saturday.
A couple of workers from the Devan Chevrolet dealership also dropped off bags of toys they had collected for the drive. They filled up the rented truck in a couple of minutes.
The toys include the board game Monopoly, the once ubiquitous Tickle Me Elmo, the eternally youthful and popular Barbie, and soccer balls small enough for a toddler to enjoy.
There was an entire large box full of stuffed animals for the wee ones who need a furry pal to snuggle with.
The bad news is that toy collections are down all over Fairfield County this year, for reasons unknown, said Henry Norley Jr., chairman for northwest Fairfield County of the Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots, based in Ridgefield.
More bad news is that more families have signed up this year for toys, for reasons unknown. No one is certain if there is an economic reason behind it.
The overwhelming good news, though, is that no child will go without toys, and no children will have to bring home fewer toys this year. That is because plenty of people also donate money to the cause, and the national wing of Toys for Tots gives the Fairfield County chapter credits to buy toys at the last minute, to fill the need, at wholesale prices from major toy stores.
So the kids will be all right.
“I am always grateful for the generosity of the people of Wilton,” said Capt. Elliott.