Nothing embodies the holiday spirit more than giving back.
And that's just the sentiment Pleasantville resident Christin Ogryzlo is hoping to bring to the community as she breathes life into the Toys for Tots Pleasantville campaign this year.
Ogryzlo said she and her husband have been giving to the Marine Corps Reserve initiative for years through the annual holiday party at the Westerly Yacht Club, and this year decided to check out a kickoff meeting for Toys for Tots in Ossining.
"I was just struck by what a nice program it is," she said. "I decided to give it a shot and start our own campaign here in Pleasantville."
Toys for Tots has been a fixture in Westchester for two decades and works to keep toy donations for young kids through teenagers in the county.
Things have gotten off to a running start a few weeks in for the local effort this year, as Ogryzlo has already gotten several local businesses involved, including , , and .
"The response has been wonderful," she said.
So far, more than 24 locations have become involved in the project locally, and Ogryzlo is also looking to incorporate a restaurant element into the mix.
"I was looking for a way to create a Restaurant Weekend at a time when restaurants might not be as full over Thanksgiving to create a win-win situation," she explained.
So far, , , , and the will all be offering incentives to customers from November 25-27 who donate to Toys for Tots, such as a free drink.
The entire campaign will be held from November 21 to December 16, and Ogryzlo encourages residents to remember both children and teens are served by the organization.
"Please think of the teenagers," she said. "We are collecting toys for ages zero through 17."
Suggested gifts for teenagers between 13 and 17 include clothes, books, sports equipment, watches and electronic games.
The unwrapped toys will be collected throughout the month, sorted and brought to the Westchester distribution center in Elmsford. Toys for Tots partners with local organizations and programs to assess the need during the holidays.
While things are just getting started and Ogryzlo said the positive response so far has led her to believe it can be done "on a bigger scale down the road."
"People are more than willing to help in small ways," she said. "I thought it was very humbling and heartwarming."
Here are the locations where you can drop off toys through Dec. 16: Bollywood Bistro, Breaking Ground Dance Studio, , , Foley's Club Lounge, Jacob Burns Film Center (weekend of Dec. 9-11 only), , Magic Wok, , , , ,, , Beautiful Hair Color Salon (Chappaqua location), Chappaqua, Berger Hardware in Thornwood and Shop Rite in Thornwood.