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Toys For Tots collections underway in Aroostook County

AROOSTOOK COUNTY, Maine — For the 10th year, the Northern Aroostook Toys For Tots is collecting toys to ensure that all children in Aroostook County experience the magic of Christmas.

Last year local Toys For Tots volunteers distributed 8,494 toys to 2,986 children, ranging in age from newborn to 18, in Aroostook County. The Northern Aroostook chapter serves the Presque Isle area from Portage Lake and Ashland to Easton, the St. John Valley towns of Fort Kent, Madawaska, Eagle Lake, Allagash, Winterville as well as Van Buren, Connor, Caribou, Presque Isle and Fort Fairfield.

Folks who wish to donate toys can drop them into designated Toys For Tots boxes, located at various local businesses. The full list of businesses can be found on the Northern Aroostook Toys For Tots website.

Toys For Tots coordinator Michael Shouse of Fort Kent encourages people to keep toys in their original packaging and to not wrap the toys, so that volunteers can sort the gifts by age group. All brand new toys, except for toy guns or other replica weapons, are allowed to be donated.

This year’s collection began on Oct. 1. Toys For Tots will end its collection on Dec. 15, to allow volunteers time to distribute the toys by Dec. 20. Each town will have a Toys For Tots distribution center where families can pick up the toys. Families with limited means of transportation can contact Toys For Tots and volunteers will help them make travel arrangements.

Shouse said that Toys For Tots is a great example of “people helping people” in Aroostook County. Though Toys For Tots volunteers hold many fundraisers throughout the year to purchase toys themselves, if more are needed, he noted that community members are always more than willing to give to children.

“Some families have a harder time buying toys at Christmas, so we want to help give children the best Christmas that they could have,” Shouse said. “Seeing the kids get excited when they receive their toys is the best part.”

To register for toy distribution or to make a financial donation to Northern Aroostook Toys For Tots, go to http://aroostook-me.toysfortots.org.

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