October 23, 2021

Getting a read on giving

Toys for Tots

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

Courtney Allen, of Cuyler, picks out gifts for her children at the Marine Corps Toys for Tots gift distribution Wednesday at the P&C Riverside Plaza in Cortland.

You know what Norm Stitzel really would like for Christmas? That one thing he’d ask Santa, if Santa still let Stitzel sit on his knee?

It’s not Barbie dolls, Stitzel’s set on those. Legos? Think again, Stitzel picked up two pallets full on Wednesday. He’s also set on Hess Trucks.

Stitzel wants books.

But absent that, just send money.

Norm Stitzel, coordinator for the local Toys for Tots chapter, said he really needs books for teenagers.

“Our wholesaler doesn’t have books for teens,” Stitzel said.

Books for children 8 to 10 years old are easily acquired through the wholesaler, Houseware Distributors Inc. in Wisconsin, Stitzel said. But not for the older kids.

People are able to donate all year long, both toys or money, Stitzel said. Around 70 donations boxes are placed across the county. Stitzel will do a final pickup on Dec. 11.

Stitzel said one of the popular boxes in the county is at Walmart, which has a large number of toys to sell. He’s already emptied the box at the store several times.

Toys for Tots expects to provide gifts for 1,200 to 1,300 kids in Cortland County this season, about average, Stitzel said.

As it grows closer to the holidays, recipients will look to pick up toys. Stitzel said people are asked to go to toysfortots.org and register by Dec. 11 to receive gifts. Then they can pick up gifts on one of the five distribution nights. Three distribution nights have occurred. Two remain: Dec. 6 and Dec. 13.

While Toys for Tots is glad to receive toys for the children, Stitzel said, money goes further.

Stitzel can get more toys per dollar by buying wholesale. On a recent trip to Toys R Us, Stitzel said, he bought $5,600 worth of toys and paid just $3,900.

Books are the same. While most places would sell a book for $12, Stitzel said he can buy the same book from the wholesaler for $3.

Stitzel said some people think if they donate money it goes into a national bucket, but that’s not the case. All money donated in Cortland County stays in Cortland County.

“We have a cause-to-support ratio of 97 percent,” Stitzel said.

That means 97 cents of each dollar donated goes to purchasing toys, while 3 cents goes to support the organization.

To make a contribution:

• To donate money to Toys for Tots: Send checks payable to Toys for Tots to P.O. Box 5113, Cortland, NY 13045.

• The Cortland Standard is a drop-off location and will be giving away a $25 gift certificate to a random winner that contributes to our Toys for Tots box.  For more information and a list of drop-off locations in Cortland County click here.

• All money donated in Cortland County stays in Cortland County, coordinator Norm Stitzel said.