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Recruiting Station Albany


Recruiting Station Albany

1st Marine Corps District

1 Buffington Street, Watervliet Arsenal, Watervliet, NY 12189
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Toys For Tots Campaign, partners recruit holiday help for Canisteo Valley


HORNELL — Sgt. Joshua Mikalunas, a U.S. Marine Corps recruiter, is settling in to his new posting at the Armed Forces Career Center in Hornell.

During his three-year assignment in Hornell, Mikalunas, a Norwich, N.Y. native, will focus on bringing some of the “few” and the “proud” from the local area into the Marine Corps. Monday, however, Mikalunas was promoting a different kind of collection effort — “recruiting” gifts for the Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots campaign.

“That’s what we’re here for today: to get this drive going, to provide for those that are in need, and I think that we’re in a great area and a great community that can do that,” said Mikalunas, who was joined by Valorie Whitehill, district manager of Hornell Partners for Growth (HPG), and Steve Olix of Turning Point, at the Marine Corps Recruiting office, 972 NY-36, Hornell.

The Toys for Tots collection effort — which will continue through Dec. 15 — is part of a wider community outreach that will benefit people and families in need in every corner of the Canisteo Valley.

“We’re very excited to be teaming with Toys for Tots for this. We’re taking on a lot of Christmas in the Canisteo Valley. Just at the Turning Point location, we’re taking on 250 families, and that sign-up is almost full,” Olix commented. “Right now, there are almost 240 children, so these donations coming in for Toys for Tots are going to be extremely helpful for our campaign and trying to get those things out there to people in need.”

Mikalunas noted that the Toys for Tots program, which began in 1948, assists more than 18 million underprivileged children each year.

Unwrapped gifts for the Toys for Tots campaign can be dropped off at the Marine Recruiting Office in the Walmart-Wegmans plaza. Recruiter Mikalunas suggests the best times for drop off are between 8 a.m. and noon in the morning or 5 to 7 p.m. evenings. Those planning to donate are asked to call in advance, at 914-489-4606, to schedule a time to deliver the toys. The collection box will not be available outside the building, so making an appointment for drop off is important. All of the toys collected for Toys for Tots will go to the Salvation Army Angel Tree and the Canisteo Valley Organizational and Outreach Committee, a group formed from local businesses, public institutions and community agencies.

“The goal is to reach as many people as possible,” Olix explained. “We found that pooling our resources together as a community is the best way to do that. It helps further the mission of Catholic Charities. It helps further the mission of the United States Marine Corps with its Toys for Tots program.

“All these things that are collected will be distributed to children in the Canisteo Valley. That is Hornell, Canisteo, Arkport. Us at Turning Point, we used to have a big thing with Sister Susan, and this is kind of in that spirit, but we want to make it bigger, and this Canisteo Valley group has really expanded our reach to where we can make this so much bigger.

“And every time in this valley that we’ve asked people to step up, they’ve done it in a major way.”

According to Whitehill of HPG, there is still time to sign up for holiday assistance. For the Angel Tree, 120 signups remain available and Turning Point has ten more slots open. The HPG Facebook page has contact information to reach each program.

“We are working on a senior tree for the Office for the Aging,” Whitehill added. “Right now we know we have about 105 seniors that we are going to look for donations for maybe some candy, blankets. I do believe that number is probably going to go up.

“So many organizations are coming together for this. It’s amazing.”

Mikalunas is the first Marine Corps recruiter to receive a permanent appointment to the Hornell office since 2015. He’s optimistic about a successful 2020 Toys for Tots campaign and about what’s ahead for recruiting station in Hornell.

“I’m here to recruit the youngest and brightest future Marines and put them as qualified citizens back in the community,” he said. "I look forward to the next three years here in Hornell. It’s been a very good area for the Marine Corps in general, people wanting to become Marines.”


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