This holiday season will be the busiest yet for Philadelphia's yearly Toys for Tots drive, as the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve strives to collect a record-breaking 115,000 toys for young people in need.
And it's a complicated year, too, as the Marines work to screen for recalled toys - and enforce their ban on toy guns. The Marines rejected toy guns last year, and this year made the ban a formal policy.
"We don't accept anything that promotes violence," says Gunnery Sgt. Robert Putney, Philadelphia's Toys for Tots' campaign manager.
The most popular toys this year are Hannah Montana dolls and Bratz dolls. For boys, it's Transformers action figures.
"Each child receives a new toy, stocking stuffer and a book," said Putney.
This year's drive kicked off in October. The last day for drop-offs is Dec. 19. Toys for girls and boys from newborns to age 13 are accepted at more than 600 boxes situated at more than 200 drop-off locations.
Toys for Tots will have a drop-off bin at the Linc for tomorrow's Eagles game, says Putney.
The season's biggest drive comes in late December. The Marines will host one last big toy drive outside of the Convention Center at 12th and Market streets on Dec. 12-14 and Dec. 17-19, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
"People who donate are the ones who make the difference," Putney said.
Big sponsors this year include LukOil, Toys R Us and Slack's Hoagie Shack.
"Without the community's involvement, Toys for Tots wouldn't exist in Philadelphia," says Putney.
For more information, log on to www.toysfortotsphila.org. Toys for Tots urges families who need assistance to call St. Vincent de Paul Church at 215-288-8160. *