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Toys for Tots is a national program run by the United States Marine Corps Reserve. Photo: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/marine_corps/8245135160/">United States Marine Corps</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Toys for Tots is a national program run by the United States Marine Corps Reserve. Photo: United States Marine Corps, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Possible letdown for needy St. Lawrence Co. children

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There's a chance the Toys for Tots program won't be able to help kids in need in St. Lawrence County this holiday season. Last year, Toys for Tots made Christmas a little brighter for more than 6,000 kids in the county.

Toys for Tots is a national charity, run by the United States Marine Corps Reserve. Each holiday season, the volunteer staff organizes toy drives and gives presents to needy children.

This year, it's complicated. Raymond Cutway, the longtime coordinator for the county, is stepping down. And the organization is having trouble finding someone to take his place.

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Reported by

Zach Hirsch
Reporter and Producer

Over the last 11 years, Cutway has given thousands of Christmas presents to St. Lawrence County children. Each one of those kids got not one, but two presents.

"The way I’ve always done it, is one for under the tree, and one for the stocking stuffer," Cutway says.  

Since last year, he’s been looking for someone to take over as coordinator. Cutway says he’s getting back surgery in the fall, and won’t be able to work. He says few people expressed interest in taking over. "I’m not going to be able to be out there like I was," he says.  

This week, it’s really gotten down to the wire. The deadline for the job application is today. If no one steps up to the plate, Toys for Tots won’t happen in St. Lawrence County this year. That means fewer presents for needy families and their kids. "I do not want to see this program go away," Cutway says.

The May 1 deadline may seem early and arbitrary—Christmas is still about 8 months away. But Cutway says it’s tricky to find a replacement. It’s a huge time commitment, one that doesn’t pay. Plus, he says the national program won’t take just anyone. Cutway says his bosses are strict about who gets the job.

"You are dealing not only with the Toys for Tots Foundation. You are also dealing with the Marine Corps, and the Marine Corps Reserve," he says, which does background checks on everyone that applies. He says, for some people, the background checks are a turnoff.

If no one gets the St. Lawrence County job, he says, it doesn’t necessarily mean there will be no Christmas this year. Social services and not-for-profits might try to run their own toy drives for kids in need. But Cutway says other groups won’t be able to reach as many kids, and many would end up without presents. He says he’s hopeful the Toys for Tots Foundation won’t let that happen. 

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