January 20, 2022

Toys for Tots official honored

Stitzel receives award for coordinating local effort

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

Marine Corp League Cortland County Coordinator Norm Stitzel pushes a shopping cart full of toys Tuesday at the Toys for Tots facility at the Riverside Plaza in Cortlandville.

While reading a monthly Toys for Tots newsletter, Norm Stitzel combed through the names of award recipients to see if he recognized any. He did — his own.

Last week Stitzel, who is the Cortland County coordinator for Toys for Tots, received the Regional Coordinator of the Year award. “It’s phenomenal,” Stitzel said Monday.

Stitzel said that the awards are given to two different people in each region for Toys for Tots. There are six regions and 880 campaigns throughout the United States.

Stitzel received one of the awards from Region One which covers from Washington, D.C., up to Maine.

“It might be my name on it (the award) but there’s a phenomenal group of volunteers,” Stitzel said.

Stitzel has been with Toys for Tots for 15 years and for 10 years has been the county coordinator.

“Everyone knows him as the Toys for Tots guy,” said Jane Witty, co-coordinator for Toys for Tots in Cortland.

Witty said Stitzel does a lot for the campaign, from dropping off collection boxes around the county to picking them up at the end of the campaign — usually by himself.

Stitzel also spends a lot of his own personal time on the campaign but knows when to have others help. “He’s really good at delegating,” Witty said.

Winners of the award are determined by several criteria, according to a release from Toys for Tots. Some of the criteria are:

• Scope of the campaign.
• Adherence to administrative procedures.
• Spirit of teamwork demonstrated.
• Attention to detail.
• Effectiveness of execution of the local plan.
• Communication with local businesses, volunteers, recipients and Marine Toys for Tots Foundation.

In September, Stitzel will travel to Virginia for a Toys for Tots conference. At the conference information is provided to community organizers and veteran organizers help out newcomers, Stitzel said.

That’s the official kick-off to Toys for Tots season, Stitzel said. Upon his return things heat up locally. “That’s when the campaign really officially starts,” he said.

While people might only think of the Toys for Tots campaign around Christmastime, think again.

People can donate all year round, Stitzel said. A couple of weeks ago the campaign hosted its annual motorcycle run fundraiser.

If anyone wants to donate new, unwrapped toys to the campaign, they can check out the Cortland County site and follow directions on the site. If people want to donate money they can fill out a check to Toys for Tots and mail it to P.O. Box 5113, Cortland.

“It’s not just in December,” Stitzel said.