Santa visit renews 'giving spirit'

More than 200 parents and children lined up at the Huntington Branch Library Dec. 1 to meet Santa.

The price of admission to meet the man in the red suit was a new unwrapped toy, book or donation.

For the last four years, the Huntington event has collected toys and donations for Team, Inc.’s Toys 4 Kids Drive. “Meet Santa Day” is organized by John Harwood, Adam Polaski of the Huntington Fire Company and Joe Laucella of Echo Hose Ambulance.

“Toys 4 Kids is an important drive but kids aren’t really involved in it and we wondered how we could connect them to it,” Harwood said. “So we had to bring in the big guy.”

The Toys 4 Kids drive collects for children from infancy to 12 years old who live in Ansonia, Beacon Falls, Bethany, Derby, Oxford, Seymour, Shelton, Orange and Woodbridge.

“The parents really love the message of today and reinforce it,” Harwood said. “It teaches that it’s not just about giving but receiving. It’s about renewing the spirit of the season.”

If you missed the Santa event, there are still plenty of ways to help support Toys 4 Kids.

This year, the greatest needs are gifts for children ages 10 to 12, according to Team Inc. Recommended donations include skateboards, snowboards/snow tubes, cameras, curling irons/flat irons/blow dryers, computer games, soccer balls and baseballs, MP3 players, sports posters and watches.

Gift cards ($5 minimum) to Seymour Cinema 12, iTunes, Target and are also welcomed.

Upon collection, toys from the drive are distributed to eligible parents at the Team "toy store" at 153 Main St., Ansonia from Monday, Dec. 17 to Thursday, Dec. 20.

Parents must request toys in advance by signing up at Team, Inc. offices, 30 Elizabeth St., Derby through Friday, Dec. 14.  Parents are provided a day and time to select and pick up toys for their children.

More than 100 drop off sites are currently accepting toy donations.

For a list of drop-off sites, visit

Follow TEAM on Facebook (teamincct) for Toys 4 Kids event updates.

To volunteer to hold a special event, host a drop-off site or volunteer at the TEAM toy store, call Trish Wigglesworth at 203-736-5420, ext. 221.

For a full list of suggestions, visit