CANTON - Santa Claus has a special elf in St. Lawrence County.
Since he first formed the organization in 2003, Raymond J. Cutway has served St. Lawrence County as volunteer lead coordinator for the Toys for Tots program for 10 years. Mr. Cutway was first introduced to Toys for Tots while serving in the Marine Corps from 1979 to 1983.
At that time, we just packed the toys up in bags and delivered them right to the children, said Mr. Cutway.
In his first year as lead coordinator, volunteers delivered toys to 1,165 children in the county. Last year the group delivered over 6,119 toys to children.
Through public donations, toys are delivered to local agencies to be distributed to children. The Salvation Army in Massena and Ogdensburg, Potsdam Holiday Fund, and the Holiday Elves sponsored by the Star Lake Food Pantry are some of the organizations which help distribute toys.
The stagnant economy has created a high demand for toys this year, he said. One organization has increased its demand by over 20 children, Mr. Cutway said.
To keep up with the high demand, Toys for Tots will hold a celebrity tip night at Pizza Hut from 4 to 8 p.m. Monday in Ogdensburg, 1010 Patterson St., and from 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesday in Canton, 5933 Route 11.
Five to six Toys for Tots volunteers will serve as celebrity waiters. All tips generated by the servers will be used to purchase toys for children in St. Lawrence County. Children will have the opportunity to have their picture taken with Santa on Monday.
All the money donated will go directly towards toys for children in St. Lawrence County, according to Mr. Cutway. We are an all-volunteer organization. We have no goal in mind. We just hope to raise whatever we can.
Mr. Cutway said he is stepping down as lead coordinator after this year for health reasons, but he said he is ready and willing to pass off his Santa hat to a new elf.
If someone is interested, I will gladly help train them, he said. Ive had a lot of fun. I love seeing the joy on the kids faces.
For more information, please contact Mr. Cutway at 393-4830.