Troy’s Toys is returning to Maple Street Park for the second-straight year in an attempt to collect toys for the Salvation Army.

Troy Austin, a lifelong Essex resident, will be running his fifth self-named toy drive from 4:30-6:30 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 8. When people stop by the park to leave either an unwrapped toy or gift card donation, they will be able to enjoy live music, grab free refreshments, and gaze upon a variety of trucks from around the area which will be decorated with festive lights.

“I wanted a great community event for people to come out and help out other families in need for the Christmas season,” Austin said. “I didn’t have an organization, and I just used to bring toys to the local drop off place... I decided to try and run my own event, and it turned out to be a success.”

Patrons can grab some complimentary hot chocolate and cookies or doughnuts before checking out the lit-up vehicles and listening to the musical stylings of two local a cappella groups. Root7 will be performing from 4:30-5:30 p.m. before the Green Mountain Chorus takes over for the second hour of the event.

Austin was successful in getting about 12 businesses to help with donating supplies for the evening, including Mark BBQ, Koffee Kup Bakery, Hannaford, Essex Equipment, Vermont Tent Company, Essex Cinemas, and Gallagher, Flynn & Company.

Among the fleet of trucks Austin was able to procure are fire engines from both Essex and Grand Isle, a truck from both TDI Repair & Towing and Aces Towing, a milk truck, a tractor from Savage View Farm, and vehicles from both the Essex Police Department and Essex Rescue.

To battle the cold, Austin has worked with the Essex Junction Recreation & Parks and Essex Parks & Recreation departments to have six fire pits scattered throughout the parking lot.

Troy’s Toys collected an estimated 250-300 items last year, and Austin is hoping to top that number on Sunday. And, of course, jolly old Saint Nick will be on site as well.

Austin says that one of his favorite parts about the toy drive is his hope that the spirit of giving will rub off on some of the youths in attendance.

“It’s awesome because I know that they love it, and possibly when they grow up, they can maybe do this for their generation. It’s a great event for families and young kids, and we hope to see everyone.”

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