HALFMOON — At least 8,000 underprivileged children in the Capital Region will have new toys for the holidays thanks to a joint effort from Sysco Albany and the Capital Region Toys for Tots campaign.
On Dec. 15, dozens of Sysco employees watched as two large trucks picked up 10 pallets filled with toys from the company headquarters in Halfmoon. Sysco Albany President Mike Pilkington said the company works closely with Toys for Tots, and works year-round to fundraise for the campaign each year.
Usually, Pilkington said, much of Sysco Albany’s work for the community goes on behind the scenes. But, thanks to Assemblywoman Mary Beth Walsh, R-Ballston, who took a tour of the premises a few weeks ago, word spread about Sysco’s effort and the company was able to gather more toys than they ever have before.
“We were able to bring it to the forefront for just a small amount of time,” Pilkington said of the toy drive and the willingness of employees to donate. “We asked once. It’s a testament to the spirit that they have, and the pride that they have.”
Pilkington added that this year was by far the most successful donation year that the company has had.
Walsh, who has been visiting a variety of local companies before heading back to the Capitol in January, said that she was impressed by Sysco Albany’s efforts during her tour, and decided that the donation boxes all over the building warranted attention.
She said she wanted “to recognize a really quiet but wonderful local company that is doing good, and wasn’t looking for any recognition.”
She added that Toys for Tots is always successful in bringing people together in a climate where most things just serve to polarize.
“Who could possibly be against the idea of providing a better Christmas for kids who really need it?” Walsh said.
Marine Corps Reserve Staff Sgt. Patrick Lurenz, assistant coordinator for the Capital Region Toys for Tots campaign, lauded the Sysco employees for the effort. Toys for Tots, he added, relies on the generosity of every day people for its success.
“All we do is drive the bus, and try to stop people from falling off,” he said. “You guys are the people that are on the bus making it happen.”
Last year, Lurenz said that Toys for Tots helped 136,000 kids. This year, he said that the charity is gearing up to provide toys to 200,000 children, just in this area. The Capital Region Toys for Tots campaign is the fourth largest campaign.
All of the toys donated by the Sysco employees, Lurenz added, go to children in the area.
“None of these toys are going anywhere other than right here in the Capital Region,” Lurenz said. “These are local kids, who need local toys, and you guys have provided that.”