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READING, Pa. - In 1981, Redner's Markets Inc. based here began collecting toys on behalf of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve's Toys for Tots program. Today, 25 years later, what began as a small project is an annual campaign donating truckloads of toys and hundreds of thousands of dollars to local needy children.
"Our support of Toys for Tots was very humble when we began collecting toys in 1981," said Eric White, Redner's spokesman. "We are very proud of the scope and areas we are now able to support through our cash and toy collection efforts. It's a nice feeling to know that we are helping to provide some smiles for children during the holidays."
During November and December, Redner's papers the walls of its stores with thousands of red paper choo-choo trains representing individual contributions from customers. The grocer invites shoppers to drop off new, unwrapped toys in collection boxes placed in the stores as well.
Redner's began offering the paper choo-choo trains for a $1 donation in 2000, as a way to acknowledge customers' generosity and increase contributions to the cause. The small trains were able to boost monetary donations to Toys for Tots by over $500,000, and have been used by operators in other areas of the country.
The employee-owned Redner's operates 39 Warehouse Markets and 12 Quick Shoppes throughout Eastern Pennsylvania, New York and Maryland.