Ron Powell, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and longtime coordinator for the Marine Corps Reserves Cape-Atlantic Toys for Tots detachment, is back to helping make the holiday season a bit brighter for needy children and families.

Powell, the Cape-Atlantic coordinator nearly since the detachment's founding in 1987, and fellow Brigantine resident Paul Robinson, its public relations officer, have placed Toys for Tots collection boxes at about a dozen sites throughout the island for the collection of new and unwrapped toys for infants to children age 14.

Under their guidance, and working with Brigantine's True Spirit Coalition, the local Toys for Tots chapter collected and dispensed nearly 50,000 toys to more than 1,300 families and distribution centers last year so that underprivileged children could have a better holiday.

City Clerk Lynn Sweeney and members of the Brigantine police, fire and public works departments all assist with the distribution and logistics of the operation. Toys are collected until roughly a week before Christmas. Coordinators work with local social welfare agencies, church groups and other agencies to distribute the toys to children in the community.

Brigantine sites to donate toys include Brigantine Ace Hardware, St. George's Pub, the Pirates Den restaurant, Weichert Realtors, the Brigantine Community Center, Mad Dog Morgan's restaurant, Berkshire Hathaway Realtors, American Legion Post 396, Elks Lodge 2428, VFW Post 6964, Dr. Frank Kern's office, and the lobby at Brigantine City Hall.

Toys will be picked up at scheduled times and brought to a storefront in the Cardiff Shopping Center on the Black Horse Pike in Egg Harbor Township, which is set up like a toy store based on age groups and gender. Parents can select a major toy, a minor toy, and stocking stuffers.

The Toys for Tots program was founded in 1947 by Major Bill Hendricks of the Marine Corps Reserves, according to Robinson. Since then it has earned a perpetual place on the Philanthropy 400 list and a top-100 ranking among 1.4 million organizations on the National Nonprofit Registry, he said.

Last year about 97 percent of the $273 million collected in toys and monetary donations was distributed to underprivileged kids throughout the country – and in some cases internationally where nations were devastated by natural disasters.

A musical comedy revue show called "Swing Into Christmas" will take place Friday, Dec. 8 in the Screening Room of Resorts Casino Hotel, 1133 Boardwalk in Atlantic City, to benefit the Cape-Atlantic Toys for Tots detachment.

Doors open 7 p.m., and the show starts at 8. Admission is free and all are welcome. Guests are asked to bring a new, unwrapped toy. There will be a cash bar 7-9 p.m. Self-parking is free.

Performers will include Jim “The Singing Lifeguard” Craine and the Atlantic City All-Star Band, singer Becky Orsatti, a dance troupe from Leslie's Dance Studio of Margate, comedian and impressionist Jeff DeHart, and surprise guests, according to organizers.

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