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U.S. Marine Corps Kick Off Annual Toys For Tots Drive At Coral House

Toys For Tots gives special nod to the late Peter Schmitt

As tragic news of the death of NCPD ESU Officer Arthur Lopez unfolded during the afternoon on Tuesday, Oct. 23, hundreds of civic, business, community and elected officials gathered in Baldwin at the Coral House to support the annual kick-off of the Long Island Toys for Tots Drive. The toy drive is the nation’s largest gift program for children during the holidays.

Special presentations in memory of Presiding Officer of the Nassau County Legislature Peter Schmitt, and recently fallen NCPD Officer Joseph Olivieri were made, including special toy presentations to Schmitt’s infant grandson, Logan, and Schmitt’s wife, Lois, by county officials.

Major Chuck Kilbride gave special recognition to the dozens of people who make Toys For Tots possible locally, such as the U.S. Postal Service workers and local marines, local legislators, and the police and fire departments who work tirelessly to collect toys each year.

The hundreds of guests were treated to special performances by the F.R.E.E. Players Jazz Ensemble, and the Bombshells trio. Guests also enjoyed special appearances by Miss Universe Leila Lopes, 26, of Benguela, Angola and from Santa Claus, himself.

Following the Marine Corps Color Guard presentation and the national anthem delivered by Angela Powers of the Stewart Manor-New Hyde Park Republican Club, Rabbi Anchelle Perl gave the invocation.

 “Year after year Major Chuck Kilbride and the U.S. Marines bring joy to children who may otherwise not receive a toy for the holidays,” said Comptroller George Maragos. “I am honored to support them as an honorary vice chairman.”

Coral House owner Butch Yamali told Anton Newspapers that it was a pleasure to host such an event; as a parent of three children, he said, “It’s important to give, so that children who don’t have, can have.” This was the first time the Toys For Tots kick-off event was held at Coral House. During the course of the announcements, Yamali, without hesitation, agreed to allow Kilbride and the Marine Corps to hold the event at Coral House again next year.

“With the economy being what it is, it’s become increasingly difficult for families to provide toys for their children the past few holiday seasons,” CSEA Nassau Local 830 President and Toys For Tots Co-Chairman Jerry Laricchiuta said. “Teaming up with the Marines Toys for Tots program gives us an opportunity to do our part towards creating a memorable holiday season for local children.”

Toys from communities across Nassau and Suffolk counties are collected by individuals and businesses, then distributed by the members of the armed services locally to underprivileged children.

For more information about collection sites and donation information visit: of contact Staff Sergeant Kyle Stahlecker, Gunnery Sergeant Steven Covington or Staff Sergeant Brian Gomez at (516) 228-3697.