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Salvation Army ‘makes the drive for toys’ in 44th annual Toy Drive in Massena


MASSENA - An annual toy drive that began in the old Massena theater more than four decades ago is now in its second year at Massena’s Ashley Furniture HomeStore on Andrews Street, and Friday saw plenty of gifts dropped off and many happy faces.

The Salvation Army’s 44th annual Toy Drive in Massena began on Tuesday and is wrapping up at noon today.

The event began in 1970 at the theater before moving to the defunct Jamesway department store in Harte Haven Plaza. Following that, the drive spent more than 20 years at Clopman’s Furniture & Appliance store before moving to Andrews Street in 2012.

Longtime WMSA morning disc jockey Sanford T. Cook has spent countless hours in past years promoting the event and encouraging the community to donate gifts and money during the holiday season to help families in financial need.

“We’re very lucky here in Massena because this is such a great, caring community. At WMSA we’ve been involved with community service since we started in 1945. ... To see our listeners respond as they do and the organizations and the people come in and the children is most heartwarming. (It’s) very heartwarming and gratifying,” Mr. Cook said.

Salvation Army Captain Cynthia Crowsen said that the donations come from a wide variety of businesses and organizations, and the gifts, whether it be toys or monetary, big or small, are all appreciated. “(The donations) vary from year to year, but we definitely have a lot of generous donors in the community and so it’s always wonderful to see the nursery students coming down as well as the (Massena Central) Red Raiders wrestlers. They come down, and they are hilarious,” Ms. Crowsen said.

“We have groups from banks and from SeaComm and from all sorts of other places. Year to year, we seem to have more and more come in and we are just grateful that people realize the need in this community and that they bring (the gifts) down.”

The toy drive is always held near the beginning of the month, a time that allows the organization to see what kinds of donations they’ll need for the holiday season.

“We try to do it early so that it allows people to see the need that is in the community and it allows us to see what we continue to need to have in order to fulfill the requests that have been put into us with the applications,” Ms. Crowsen said.

Salvation Army officials said that they have had to extend application dates for assistance this season due to cutbacks in food stamps among other reasons.

“We continue to do (the toy drive) each year because this is one of our main drives in order to get toys, but also donations from groups. Some groups just bring in a check that they’ve raised money throughout the year and so this is one of the main ways that we do it,” Ms. Crowsen said. “We do have the red kettle,s and we do have our angel tree, which also are very useful in this community, but this radio drive that we’ve done for years has just been one of the ways that we seem to get a large amount.

“It also is a way that, as the community walks by the windows here at Ashley’s but also originally at Clopman’s, they can see the amount of toys and see the work that’s going on so that they know how important it is to support the community members who are in need here in Massena. ... We just want to thank the community members that keep coming in and keeps giving every year. We know that even for people who used to give, it’s difficult for them this year and that as they keep doing so, we know that the need grows stronger every year.”

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