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Toys for Tots

Photo from Doherty Enterprises

Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar representatives presented a check for $12,091 to Toys for Tots on Feb. 24. The funds were raised during Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar’s 22nd annual fundraising campaign in support of the Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program, which distributes new toys to as many underprivileged children as possible to provide a tangible sign of hope during the Christmas season. 

This year, Applebee’s also introduced its own “Tots for Tots” program, offering guests an additional way to donate by adding tater tots to any order for just $3, with each sale going directly to the organization. Since its inception, Applebee’s locations owned and operated by Doherty Enterprises have raised $4.9 million through its Toys for Tots fundraising campaign to benefit local communities in Florida, Georgia, Long Island and New Jersey. In just 2020 alone, Toys for Tots distributed 20.2 million toys to 7.4 million children. 

Owned and operated by Doherty Enterprises, participating Suffolk County Applebee’s locations included Bohemia, Brentwood, Commack, East Farmingdale, East Islip, Farmingville, Huntington, Lake Grove, Lindenhurst, Miller Place, Patchogue, Riverhead and Shirley.

Pictured from left, John Antosiewicz, area director, Applebee’s New Jersey; Meredith Free, general manager, Applebee’s; David Fox, sergeant, United States Marine Corps Reserve; and Nick D’Andrea, chief warrant officer 4, Toys for Tots Coordinator. 

On the morning of Wednesday, December 16, Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci joined Macy’s Manager Leon McDonald at Macy’s in Huntington Station with Staff Sergeant Jerry Caballero and the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve as they picked up Toys for Tots donations collected in their annual drive coordinated by Town Veterans Affairs Coordinator Carol Rocco.

“Before all the snow started on Wednesday, U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sergeant Jerry Caballero picked up the Toys for Tots donations at Huntington Town Hall and Macy’s at Walt Whitman Shops. Thank you to  Macy’s Manager Leon McDonald, Town Veterans Affairs Coordinator Carol Rocco, Staff Sergeant Caballero and all who donated to make Christmas merrier for many of our less fortunate children!” said Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci.

Since 1947, the Marine Corps Reserve has been making Christmas wishes come true for needy children with their Toys for Tots campaign. Toys for Tots on Long Island makes a difference in the lives of less fortunate children in our communities. The Town of Huntington is partnering again this year with the Marine Corps Reserve hosting Toys for Tots donation boxes at Town Hall and other Town facilities.

In the photos: At Macy’s (Walt Whitman Shops), Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci joins Macy’s Manager Leon McDonald, Town Veterans Affairs Coordinator Carol Rocco and U.S. Marine Corps Reserve led by Staff Sergeant Jerry Caballero; At Huntington Town Hall, Town Veterans Affairs Coordinator Carol Rocco with U.S. Marine Corps Reserve led by Staff Sergeant Jerry Caballero.

Above, Harbor Country Day students and staff, along with two U.S. Marines, stand in front of a truck filled with Toys for Tots donations. Photo courtesy of Harbor Country Day School

On Dec. 14, United States Marines from the Sixth Communications Battalion, Alpha Company, in Farmingdale, visited Harbor Country Day School in St. James to collect thousands of toys donated to the Suffolk County Toys for Tots program. In addition to collecting donated toys from its own students, Harbor Country Day also served as a drop-off location for the surrounding community.

Harbor Country Day has contributed to the Toys for Tots drive since 1998, when former Harbor employee Mike Guido instituted the program. Now retired from the school, Guido directs the delivery of toys from various sites throughout Smithtown to Harbor Country Day and other drop-off locations. The John W. Cooke V.F.W. Post 395 of St. James, of which Guido is a member, also contributed funds, which were used to purchase toys for the drive.

“We are honored to play a part in the Suffolk County Toys for Tots program,” said John Cissel, head of school for Harbor Country Day School. “During this time of year, when our lives are exceptionally busy and hectic, we cherish the opportunity to slow down a bit and remind our students about the importance of ‘stepping outside of ourselves’ and helping others in need. The Toys for Tots program is a perfect opportunity to do that and, at the same time, to make a valuable contribution to our surrounding community.”