Avianna DiMartino, 5, right, and her brother Anthony DiMartino, 3,...

Avianna DiMartino, 5, right, and her brother Anthony DiMartino, 3, of Massapequa, donate toys to the Toys for Tots Drive at John Burns Park on Saturday in Massapequa Park. Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

The true spirit of the holiday season was on full display in Massapequa Park on Saturday as hundreds of Long Islanders opened their hearts to donate gifts for children in need.

Festive music played on KJOY radio speakers and a Santa Claus was on hand to greet children dropping off items for the annual Toys for Toys Drive hosted by the Town of Oyster Bay together with the U.S. Marine Corps at John Burns Park.

For the second consecutive year, the pandemic turned the event into a drive-through affair, but that didn’t stop donations from pouring in. This year’s toy drive appears to have exceeded last year’s record of 20,000 presents, according to Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino.

"We are very grateful to everyone’s generosity and everyone who took part in this very special holiday program," Saladino said Saturday afternoon. "It was exciting to see the faces of those kids smiling in delight … and to understand that they feel so good to be giving. It just filled our hearts with pride."

Some folks pulled in with trunk loads of goodies — everything from puzzles, to teddy bears, to a rocking horse and even a bike.

Marines from Battalion 225 were on hand to transfer the toys into a waiting truck, where they’ll get transported to a nearby warehouse and get sorted by age before being distributed across the metropolitan area.

"It’s nice to see our community rallying for a good cause," said Councilwoman Laura Maier. "We smashed our previous record last year and our goal is to do it again."

After dropping off their gifts, families had the chance to take pictures with a jolly Santa waiting nearby.

Megan DiMartino, 34, of Massapequa, was with her two young children and husband. "They picked out their own toys to donate. We want to teach them what it means to give back," DiMartino said.

Massapequa Park resident Christina Castellani, 41, donated six boxes with large stuffed teddy bears.

"These past few years have been really hard, people lost their jobs, they don’t have enough money to get those extra things so these past couple of years have meant more than anything." said Castellani, 41. "It’s more about giving and not so much receiving."

Tom Schalk Sr., 71, and his 41-year-old son, Tom Schalk Jr., pulled in with a Honda SUV filled with gear.

"It’s such a great feeling to know you’re doing good for other people. The pandemic affected so many people and children all have the same dreams. We just want to be able to take away some of their burden," said Schalk Jr.

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