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Monroe County Toys for Tots program underway

Monroe County Toys for Tots decided not to put out donation boxes again this year to collect toys because of the pandemic.

MONROE COUNTY, Pa. — Toys for Tots is one of the biggest toy distribution organizations in the country. In Monroe County, many families rely on donations during the holiday season.

"Last year, we handed out almost 8,000 toys and helped out more than 2,400 children. There is a big need in Monroe County," said John Camaerei, Monroe County Toys for Tots.

Because of the pandemic, organizers of Monroe County Toys for Tots did not put out distribution boxes again this year.

Normally, about 150 boxes are scattered throughout this part of the Poconos. Instead, the nonprofit has been collecting monetary donations and buying gifts for the drive.

Many are being kept at the Armed Forces Career Center near Stroudsburg.

This center is also a drop-off location, so if you want to, you can bring a toy or money.

Marine Staff Sgt. Nyron Smith helps collect toys now, but when he was a kid, he was on the receiving end.

"I feel like this is very important to the children and families. Myself, growing up, I was raised by my grandparents and not my parents, so they were a big influence in my life. Having the toys, having people donate things to myself and my family helped me become the person I am today," said Staff Sgt. Smith.

Monroe County Toys for Tots helps the East Stroudsburg Salvation Army and Pleasant Valley Ecumenical Network near Brodheadsville put on toy distributions each year.

Members tell us they couldn't do this without community support.

"Because of the generosity, we haven't missed a beat. We will make the mission because of the many donations, we've been buying toys, and we are all set to give kids a good Christmas this year in Monroe County," said Camaerei.

Toys will be distributed next month, but to keep the mission going for years to come, donations are still needed.