30 years of Christmas magic: Oswego Toy Drive celebrates anniversary

OSWEGO, N.Y. —  The Oswego Toy Drive is celebrating 30 years of making Christmas wishes come true.

Staff assistant for the Associate Vice President of Facility Services Casey Walpole has worked at SUNY Oswego for almost 40 years.

“I’m pretty happy that it’s the 30th year and it’s still going strong,” Walpole said.

Walpole has been the chair and treasurer for the project since it began. In the past three decades, the organization has collected thousands of toys and thousands of dollars to help buy presents for children in the community. Walpole says she wouldn’t be able to do it all without her team.

“They come over; they set up their trees; put the ornaments on the trees and collect the toys,” said Walpole.

Graduate Student Holly Reitmeier is one of the 30 team members in charge of a Christmas tree for the toy drive, where paper ornaments hang with each child’s’ name, age and gift written on each side.

“This is the first year I’ve had the privilege of working on the toy drive, but so far I can say it’s been a great experience,” said Reitmeier.

When setting up the tree in Riggs Hall, she noticed some ornaments that really stood out to her.

“Honestly the ones that say books just melt my heart,” said Reitmeier.

To participate, you can select an ornament for a specific child, purchase the gift and bring it unwrapped to the selected location mentioned on the tree.

Walpole says last year the toy drive helped 1,500 children and almost 900 families. Out of thousands of ornaments, one made her realize how important her job really is.

“The little boy whose mother had died, and all he wanted for Christmas was his mother. And he was 4 years old, how do you tell him? But ya know, we got him a special gift that year, and we normally don’t do special gifts because we have too many kids, but we got him an angel that year and his father said he really loved it. So that’s the stuff that keeps it going, and thats why I will stay involved after I retire,” said Walpole.

Walpole said next year may be her last toy drive, but she will do everything she can to spread holiday cheer and bring presents to the children in Oswego County.

The Toy Drive serves all kids, newborn to 18 years old. The last day to donate this season is December 15, and the distribution day for families to pick up gifts is December 17 in the auxiliary gym in Laker Hall.