This Christmas Day, 600 children will have something to open on Christmas Day, thanks to the Connecticut B.A.S.S. Federation Nation’s 6th Annual Toys for Tots Drive.
“Every year, we strive to have at least one more toy than last year — to make one more kid happy than the previous Christmas,” said Armand Fortier, member of the Mohawk Valley Bassmasters. “This year, we did that and more!”
“We set up two boats — one at each entrance — at a Walmart in Wallingford that’s bigger than our usual one,” explained Sylvia Morris, president of the Connecticut BFN. Their location at a larger Walmart was one of the reasons the donations were up, Morris surmised.
“Santa Claus and Marine Sgt. Freddie Salmeron joined us,” said Morris, “and watching the kids with them was amazing!”
In all, 25 people volunteered their time Saturday, Dec. 10, to collect toys for children in need. The total value of the toys donated was an estimated $6,000, and several of Walmart’s customers even contributed children’s bikes.
The Connecticut BFN donated $500 toward the purchase of toys, and three other clubs donated $100 each. Walmart donated $1,000 and permitted Connecticut BFN representatives to shop the markdown merchandise in the stockroom so they could get the best value. Mohawk Valley Bassmasters, which originated the drive six years ago, donated $650, $400 of which was raised by one member, Ron Gdovin.
“We enjoy knowing that a bunch of kids are going to get presents on Christmas Day,” said Fortier. “It’s also great to do these types of events because it changes the way people think of us; we’re not just fishermen.”
Morris echoed Fortier’s sentiment and added her own personal story. “I don’t think there’s a better way to give back,” she said. “My family was in a situation one year where we were struggling, and someone gave my kids a Christmas through Toys for Tots. I promised myself then that I would give back.”