Hundreds of volunteers help Goodfellows, Toys for Tots
Colleen Balistrieri of Brentwood works with her husband, Nino, background, to unload boxes of toys for the Marine Corps' Toys for Tots program at Guardian Storage in the Strip District.
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For many years, the men and women of Marine Corps Military Police Company Bravo, based in North Versailles, have not only served their country but have done yeoman service to underprivileged children during the holidays.
The local Toys for Tots program distributes gifts to more than 30,000 kids, ensuring a joyous Christmas for children who might otherwise go without.
But the Marines couldn't do it by themselves -- their stewardship of the program is aided by hundreds of volunteers who deliver and sort toys at the donated warehouse space for the program, at Guardian Storage Solutions in the Strip District.
The nonprofit organization Pittsburgh Cares puts it all together, and it came together in a big way on Friday, as about 70 volunteers greeted a massive shipment of toys collected in Stuff-a-Bus, a promotion sponsored by radio station 96.1 KISS-FM.
The radio station put a bus at Monroeville Mall and encouraged citizens to donate. They stuffed one bus after another, 34 in all.
"Pittsburghers gave back in an enormous way this year," said Amanda Trocki, corporate programs manager for Pittsburgh Cares.
On Thursday and Friday, participants in the annual corporate volunteer days -- hailing from Sentric Inc., Pepsi, Towers Watson, Levin Furniture and Lunova -- sorted toys by gender and age group. Employees of the Scarehouse in Etna also helped.
By Christmas, nearly 600 volunteers will have pitched in at the warehouse, Ms. Trocki said.
The toys will be picked up and distributed by nearly 150 charitable organizations, many of which also depend on volunteers. The Toys for Tots program also has scheduled two days this month when parents or guardians can pick up toys at the Strip District warehouse.
Getting involved in this worthy effort requires nothing more than a few minutes of your time, to write a check or make an online donation to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Goodfellows Fund.
Since 1947, Goodfellows has sought to ensure that no child faces a Christmas morning without gifts under the tree. Since 1999, Goodfellows has teamed with the local Toys for Tots program to deliver Christmas cheer to underprivileged children.
A tradition of Goodfellows is that every donor is acknowledged in the pages of the Post-Gazette. You can make a tax-deductible contribution by using the coupon that appears with this story or online at www.post-gazette.com/goodfellows.
The Toys for Tots program will hold open houses this month to distribute toys to parents and guardians of needy children.
They will take place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 14 and 15 at Guardian Storage Solutions, 2839 Liberty Ave., Strip District. Parents and guardians should bring a photo ID for themselves, a birth certificate for each child (children up to age 12 are eligible) and proof of need -- welfare check stub, food stamp card or other proof of government assistance.
First Published December 2, 2012 12:00 am