Garden City, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Thanks to Toys for Tots, thousands of children across Long Island have a present to unwrap to each holiday season.

Thursday marked the start of an annual drive in the heart of Nassau County that aims to serve more children than ever before.

‘Tis the season of giving. That’s the lesson children in Garden City are learning at an early age.

“I brought toys in a Christmas bag for less fortunate children who don’t get as much toys on Christmas than we do,” said Stewart School student Maddie Atteritano.

Two local elementary school schools helped members of the U.S. Marine Corps kick off their 19th annual Toys for Tots giveaway Thursday, donating hundreds of brand new toys that will so go to local children in need.

“There are so many kids that don’t get a toy, that deserve to get a toy, and we want to make every single kid happy,” said Toys for Tots co-chair Sean Acosta.

Just last year alone, Garden City’s collection drive provided 110,000 Long Island children with more than 220,000 presents. The Marine Toys for Tots that takes place in communities in which a Marine Corps reserve unit is located hopes to beat that number this year, spreading more smiles and holiday cheer to those who need it most.

“We brought some stuffed animals, some Legos, some action figures and stuff,” said student Tommy Schreier.

“We usually have a lot of presents. And then you think about kids who are hurt or are going through stuff and they usually don’t get presents, so they will get a lot of presents this year, because there’s a lot here,” said student Brooke Breheny.

The tikes gathered in Roosevelt Field Mall to present overflowing bags of toys to the Marines, who then helped pack the items in Santa’s sleigh, officially kicking off this year’s collection drive.

As a special thank you for all their hard work, Santa Claus himself even made an appearance, inviting the children to sing along to a Christmas carol or two.

The drive wraps up after Christmas.

There are a number of drop off locations throughout Long Island. For more information, click here. To find the closest drop off location near you, click here.

 

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