Operation Toy Train picks up loads in Sparta, Vernon

SPARTA. A total of 19,400 toys were collected during the first two weekends of December at stops in New Jersey and New York.

Vernon /
| 20 Dec 2022 | 11:45

After collecting about $7,500 in donations, members of the Warlocks motorcycle club went shopping Saturday, Dec. 3 at Wal-Mart.

A week later, they delivered four truckloads of unwrapped toys to the Sparta Train Station for the Toys for Tots campaign, organized by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve.

Those toys, along with others collected at a number of local businesses and some brought to the station by residents, were loaded on a special train that pulled into the station about 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10.

While Santa, escorted by Marine Corps officers, talked and posed for photos with people gathered at the station, members of the Travis Manion Battalion U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps counted the toys, then lifted them in boxes onto train cars.

Operation Toy Train then headed to Veterans Memorial Park in Vernon for another load.

The train picked up 1,676 toys in Sparta and 413 in Vernon, said Matt Molloy, instructor of the cadet corps. Twenty-six of the corps’ 38 members helped with the loading.

Operation Toy Train collected a total of 19,400 toys during the first two weekends of December at stops in New Jersey and New York.

Bill Dermody, whose family owns the Sparta station, said the event there was smaller this year than before the pandemic. “Next year, we’re going to bump it right back up to the full pre-Covid enthusiasm.”

The number of toys donated was among the largest years, he said. “They really came out in force.”

Kyle Ali, a member of the Hardyston-based Warlocks, said this was the second year that the club brought toys to the event.

“Everything we do is for Sussex County.,” he said, adding that a fundraiser for the West Milford Animal Shelter is planned in February. “Everything we do is local.”