MANATEE -- The Marines are looking for a few new toys and U.S. Postal carriers want to help them collect as many as they can.
On Saturday, postal customers are being asked to leave new, unwrapped toys by their mailboxes before the regular mail delivery time. Letter carriers, in support of the Marine Toys For Tots Foundation, will collect the toys as they deliver mail along their routes.
"This is very big day, a very important day," said Al Friedman, state project coordinator and president of the Florida State Association of Letter Carriers in Tampa. "This goes to underprivileged children who might not have a toy on Christmas otherwise."
With 4 million homes in the Suncoast District Postal Service -- Daytona to Brooksville to Naples to Melbourne -- the goal is at least 1 million toys.
Toys collected in Manatee County will be distributed to needy families in Manatee County.
"You can tell which families are having a hard time when you work your route and you can see it in the kids' eyes," said Pat Muise, a Bradenton postal carrier.
His colleagues will be out Saturday, ready to accept whatever size gifts their customers wish to donate.
"I know I've had everything from board games to bikes, dolls and stuffed animals, you name it," Muise said. "The back of my truck is usually filled by the time I get back to the downtown branch."
Toys should be left by the mailbox, but customers wishing to donate toys after their carrier has delivered may bring toys to their local Post Office.
The same goes, Friedman said: "If you live in a condo or apartment, you can still drop off toys at any post office counter. They will get it to the Marines."
For more details, visit toysfortots.org.
Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 941-745-7055. Twitter:@vinmannix