Pelham Manor firehouse collects 600 Toys for Tots, breaking record

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Pelham Manor firemen are going to make at least 600 kids very happy this Christmas. The Toys for Tots drive run by the Pelham Manor Career Firefighters Benevolent Association collected 600 toys (and counting) for delivery to kids at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, Blythesdale Children’s Hospital and The Emerald Society.

That’s the largest number of toys the association has ever collected.

“The residents of Pelham and Pelham Manor have really outdone themselves this year,” said Micheal Greco, captain of the Pelham Manor Fire Department.

The drive was started five years ago by Joseph Vitarello, when he found out a friend’s child had been diagnosed with leukemia. Vitarello suggested the firemen put a Toys for Tots box at the firehouse for kids in the hospital during the holidays.

Five years later, the Pelham Manor Fire Department is one of the few organizations whose members are allowed to walk the halls of the hospitals and hand deliver the toys to the children.

“It’s truly an awe-inspiring experience,” Greco said.

Greco will always remember delivering a certain JoJo Siwa pillow to a little girl. “When she saw that pillow, her eyes just lit up,” he said.  “That moment will always be stuck in my head.”

This year, the firehouse had extra help. The Siwanoy Student Government organized a drive alongside the Pelham Manor firefighters and added in their toys. The Anthony Senerchia Jr. ALS Charitable Foundation donated too.

Greco said more toys for teenagers are always needed. “Many people don’t realize that teens are in children’s hospitals and need toys too,” he said.  The best toys in general, he said, are sensory toys, like knitting or rainbow looms, puzzles or anything that keeps children’s minds occupied.

He said this year’s large amount of donated toys is because “our community is great. Our people know how important it is.”  The Pelham Manor firefighters are grateful for the donations because, he said, “we can then take care of the children that are less fortunate and or sick that have to remain in the hospital this Christmas season.”