Fmr. Marine, 76, turns home into holiday toy store

Thursday, December 18, 2014
VIDEO: Toys for Tots
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It may look like a toy store, but it?s Bill Wilson's living room.

MT. LAUREL, N.J. (WPVI) -- It may look like a toy store, but it's Bill Wilson's living room.

Each year, the 76-year-old former Marine turns his Mt. Laurel home into Santa's workshop as part of the Marines Toys for Tots program.

And even after 25 years at it, for him, the cause never gets old.

"Knowing you are helping little kids that I know in my heart these are the only toys that they are going to get," Wilson said.

Families register ahead of time to participate.

Adults shop Wilson's living room and can pick out several toys for each child or a bicycle.

It's a godsend for struggling families.

"I was working two jobs and I lost both of them and I have a 3-year-old. So it's kind of hard," Read Wright of Browns Mills, NJ said.

"Like everybody else we work but times are still hard. They have some presents. We weren't sure if we were going to be able to afford to get them any," Alan Salas of Medford, NJ said.

"We get hugs, we get cries. I get cards, we get emails. We have people drop off cookies," family coordinator Gina Capate said.

Burlington County's Toys for Tots program is one of the most successful in the country; this Christmas they expect to give out 45,000 toys to deserving kids in our area.

"I haven't done any of my own shopping yet all we've been doing is driving around picking up toys," Bob Matkowski of Toys for Tots said.

Working with a crew of dedicated volunteers in uniform and out, Bill Wilson says the Toys for Tots program is a labor of love and knowing that over 15,000 kids in the area will have a merry Christmas makes it all worthwhile.

"You get to see the people's faces that come shop here and that's worth all the problems, everything we go through. Just look at the face you know you're helping them out," Wilson said.