Horse Racing

The Marines return to the sewers for Tots Day toys

By the time his job ends this season of Toys for Tots, Major Chuck Kilbride of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve will be hosting 269 events in the New York metro area on behalf of the U.S. Marine Corps. for a charity that collects and distributes new toys to needy children. holiday.

And his favorite of those events? “No question, it will aqueduct“, he said. “The racing community in New York is the most caring, shared group of people I know. If they have a big day at the track, they will be generous with Toys for Kids. If not, they still give. Fans, coaches, it doesn’t matter. Their generosity is truly something.”

Major Kilbride and his Marines were at the Aqueduct for NYRA Children’s Toys on December 3, Cigar Mile Handicap Day. It marked his 32nd year representing the Marine Corps Tots Toy Reserve at the Aqueduct in what has become a cherished holiday tradition at the NYRA.

Fans on Saturday left new, unpacked toys for the kids in donation boxes in the Aqueduct clubhouse. Others donated to Major Kilbride and other Marines and “Tots” supporters, who took part in the winners’ circle ceremony after race Thursday, named in his honor. Toys for Tots.

As part of the Toys for Tots Foundation’s support, the NYRA is making a financial contribution to the organization. Toys for Tots are also supported by donations from the New York Thoroughbred Riders Association as well as purebred owner Harold Lerner.

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Lerner started donating every year 10 or 12 years ago, at the suggestion of coach Gary Contessa, a regular contributor to Toys for Tots.

“There are a lot of kids that could be left behind,” Lerner said of needy kids who can use the benefits at this time of year. “Giving them a toy and making them happy can make all the difference. Kids who receive gifts should know that there is a community that cares about them. And sometimes, an act of kindness inspires. for those kids to do something great in their lives.”

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Marine Corps’ Toy Fund for Tots, which began a few weeks before Christmas 1947 when Major Bill Hendricks of the US Marine Corps Reserve admired a rag doll that his wife, Diane, crocheted from thread.

So, Diane wondered, how could they give it to a poor child in time to “have a merry Christmas?”

Major Hendricks doesn’t know of any agency that distributes the toys. So the next day, he and a Marine colleague proposed to their superiors an annual Marine-sponsored holiday toy drive.

“Don’t fail” was the brief advice they received.

But that’s good enough—with the best evidence of it happening every year at the Aqueduct. One of the appeals of supporting Toys for Tots is that the charity ensures that the proceeds and toys go to children in that area. That way, everything collected at the Aqueduct is distributed to New York families.

Toys for Tots is also the highest-ranked Charity in terms of direct donations to the organization’s mission. Over 97% of donations go directly to the mission of providing toys and other gifts to underprivileged children.

Currently, Marine Reserve Toys for Tots distributes an average of 18 million toys to 7 million poor children annually. It also has a literacy program that provides books and educational resources to disadvantaged children.

Back in the Aqueduct, Major Kilbride enjoyed the opportunity to contribute. “The people at the racecourse are all kinds of people and so they are very dedicated when it comes to Children’s Toys,” he said. “We love it here.”

This press release has been edited by BloodHorse Staff for content and style.


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