Being part of toy drive is ‘something to be very proud of’

SEATTLE — The annual KIRO 7 Cares Toy Drive benefiting Toys for Tots is well underway.

The U.S. Marine Corps is marking 75 years of the tradition of trying to get toys to families in need.

On Tuesday morning, KIRO 7 crews got a look at some of the toys coming in and being loaded into festive red sacks.

Our cameras were at Ballard Blossom in Seattle for a major drop of toys. Rick Koch, the owner of All City Fence, said he makes a point each year to buy toys for the donation drive, and this year is no different.

Koch told KIRO 7 that his business is marking its seventieth year, which is nearly as long as the milestone for Toys for Tots, which began in 1947, according to the U.S. Marine Corps.

Marine Corps representative Victoria Fontanelli said the toys that are donated have changed with the times. She said that in the last six years she has been involved with the drive, she’s noticed that such items as electronics have come to the forefront.

As far as gifts for younger children, apparently those have not changed much and remain somewhat traditional. Fontanelli said many donors give toy cars or Barbie dolls. She also said that most Marines will have some experience with the toy drive during their career and that she finds it fulfilling.

“Having this program really allows us to come out to our communities and show that we are doing more to serve our country — whether it be in garrison or overseas. Also just giving back — being able to do that. Being able to be part of this program is such an honor. Something to be very proud of,” said Fontanelli.

Koch says he’s always ready to give and thinks collecting toys for the drive is one of the highlights of his holiday season.

“It’s kind of a tradition in our company. We’re reaching 70 years next year. We’ve done a lot over the years during Christmas and the holidays for the families and children around the greater Puget Sound area and Seattle area,” said Koch.

The drive is still running and the Marine Corps said on Tuesday that toys for the youngest children — up to 2 years old — are needed but they also need more toys for kids ages 13 and up.

The KIRO 7 Cares Toy Drive continues. You can donate a new unwrapped toy at any Albert Lee Appliance Location, at Ford of Kirkland or at one of our donation drop off locations.

You can find a list of locations and the most needed toys at https://www.kiro7.com/toydrive/.