Cheryl Dinolfo, county executive, and Gary Smith, founder and executive director of the Pirate Toy Fund, recently held a toy giveaway for children in need for a third year at Blue Cross Arena.
Over 5,000 children were invited to attend and receive a toy that was donated by Monroe County residents.
“For a third year in a row, I’m delighted to join the Gary the Happy Pirate and the Pirate Toy Fund this holiday season so that children in our community can experience the joy of receiving a gift,” Dinolfo said. “Every day, I am so impressed by the spirit of our community and the collective spirit to help each other. Once again, our community has demonstrated the strength of its generosity and the dedication of its charitable organizations. I want to thank Gary for his continued partnership in this toy fund, and for making this toy drive a holiday tradition and helping to bring more smiles to kids in our community this holiday season.”
Smith, aka Gary the Happy Pirate, annually collects thousands of toys for the Pirate Toy Fund. Donations primarily come from county residents and are distributed to children in need.
“This is a special event near and dear to me that I’ve been wanting to do for almost 10 years,” Smith said. “With the help of the county and our sponsors, we’ve made it a reality for a third year in row. I am very enthused with the positive reception from the community and looking forward for this event to become an annual holiday tradition, bringing smiles to children for years to come.”
The Pirate Toy Fund was founded in 1995. It collects donated toys and distributes them to children suffering from illness or tragedy, and children with special needs. Since its inception, the Pirate Toy Fund has distributed nearly 250,000 toys. This year, over 20,000 toys were collected through community donations.
The Monroe County Department of Human Services helped organize the toy giveaway, sending invitations to 5,000 children who otherwise may not have received gifts this holiday season.