Tommy Toy Fund expected to help 4,000 families in eastern Connecticut

NEW LONDON, Conn. (WTNH)– The loading docks at the Gemma Moran Food Bank are bustling. It’s one of the sites for the Tommy Toy Fund distribution.

The whole process runs like a well-oiled machine. Volunteers, who act as shoppers, fill the orders of families who come in for the toys, which are chosen based on gender and age.

“The kids are the winners today,” said volunteer William Gonzalez.

The Tommy Toy Fund was started by the Norwich Bulletin after a young girl wrote a letter to the editor explaining how her little brother, Tommy, wouldn’t understand why Santa didn’t stop at their house. Since then the effort has grown.

“Families have been lined up outside since about eight o’clock this morning,” said Alice Soscia with the United Way, which is organizing distribution sites in New London, Norwich, and Dayville.

The goal is to help make the holidays happy for families in need.

“I appreciate it because not a lot of people know about this, and I just found out through a friend,” said Gladys Alvarez, a grandmother from New London who lost her home in a fire. “If I wouldn’t have known, my Christmas tree would have been empty.”

Companies like Foxwoods, which held a “Stuff the Bus” campaign, have greatly helped the cause.

“It makes me think of the movie ‘Robots,'” said Foxwoods employee Sharif Patterson. “I have a three- and five-year-old. See a need, fill a need. That’s what we’re doing this year.”

Four-thousand families in eastern Connecticut are getting help this holiday and beyond.

“I appreciate it a lot,” said Alvarez through tears. “I don’t how much I can say thank you for all this that I don’t have, and now I do, and thank you so much.”

The families who picked up toys Wednesday already registered through local agencies, but if you haven’t done so, it’s not too late. Families can come to any of the locations after noon Thursday and register to receive the toys that are left. A valid ID is required.

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