One of the largest Toys-for-Tots collection drives in the country started right here in Nassau County, in the parking lot of Martino Auto Concepts in Glen Cove.
13 years later, this event remains a staple of the community’s efforts to provide for the less fortunate — and has since outgrown the auto concepts parking lot — taking in a new home at the Nassau Coliseum.
“Who would ever think that from that effort so many years ago, we would be here today hosting the largest collection in the nation,” said Nassau County Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton about the event, “not only do we normally collect enough for Nassau County, but we usually collect enough to help Suffolk and the five boroughs.”
Despite heavy rain dampening the morning, Joe LaPadula, co-owner of Martino Auto Concepts who started this collection with Jon Holzer in 2010, says this year they have collected well over 100,000 toys, with an official number yet to be determined.
“As you can see — rain, snow, or shine, the people come out to donate for a good cause,” said LaPadula, “a new, unwrapped toy is a symbol of hope, and I am grateful to work with the Marines Toys for Tots Program alongside so many community leaders, corporate sponsors, and volunteers,” LaPadula continued.
“We are so grateful to everyone who works so diligently year after year to make this event such a tremendous success,” said Legislator DeRiggi-Whitton, “I’m especially grateful for the tireless efforts of Joe LaPadula and Jon Holzer of Martino Auto Concepts, and thankful for everything that the Nassau County Police Department, our partners in law enforcement, and the County Executive’s team do each year to support this philanthropic mission.”
Although this giveaway takes place right in this community’s backyard, it drew residents from all over the island, like Kasper Domanski and Sandra Lesniewski from West Babylon, and Chris Crisera from North Babylon — who all came out with bags full of donations for children in need.
“It feels good to give back for the holidays,” said Crisera, who also had his Mustang on display at the event for patrons to take photos with and look at, “knowing that what I’m giving is going to someone less fortunate during this time of year.”
Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman also made an appearance towards the end of the morning, thanking all who donated and helped put this giveaway together.
“I would like to thank USMC Toys for Tots for hosting one of the biggest toy drives of the year even in the midst of a heavy downpour. They managed to collect over 75,000 new, unwrapped toys for children in need. So many children from all walks of life will now have a happy holiday season because of USMC toys for tots and the gracious donors all across Nassau County!”