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Toys for Tots campaign gets underway in the Poconos

This is the first year since the pandemic that distribution boxes are back out to the public.

STROUDSBURG, Pa. — Toys are starting to fill donation bins inside the Armed Forces Career Center near Stroudsburg. They'll go to many families across Monroe County who rely on the donations.

"We're having more families in need than we've seen before because these are hard times for everybody. Having come off COVID and now going into this inflation world that was living in, a lot of people are on hard times," said Eileen Clarke with Monroe County Toys for Tots.

This is the first year since the pandemic that distribution boxes are back out to the public. The boxes went out in October, so donations could start early.

"COVID kept us off the streets and out of the stores and everywhere else because, unfortunately, it was for the safety of everybody, including our volunteers at that time. So we're excited that you know that's behind us now, and we get to be out in public with everyone again," said Clarke.

The Cinder Inn Bar and Grill in Stroud Township is just one of 100 locations hosting the distribution box.

"We've had this emptied twice already, so we're looking to fill it up again and make a third time for the kids," said Kristen Pitchford, a bartender at the Cinder Inn.

"We want to make sure we're out there showing, we're here to show you that it's OK, it's safe to come to bring the toys by. We're ready to greet them and thank them for their opportunity to help out with the community," said Staff Sgt. Ryan Packard, United State Marines.

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

Donations have been slower, but organizers hope that now that the season of giving is upon us, people will lend a helping hand.

"People are concerned and tightening their belts to get through everything over the next few months. So, they want to provide Christmas to their families and, of course, food on the table. But what I will tell you is there is no donation too small. So please please, please we need everybody to give," Clarke said.

Toys will be distributed next month.

For a list of Monroe County Toys for Tots collection sites, click here. 

Check out WNEP’s YouTube channel.  

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