To the Editor:

Beginning my 26th year of collecting toys and food for those less fortunate, I found it started out very slowly.

This year with the economic situation, it seemed as though there were fewer individuals and organizations collecting, less giving and, more worrisome, and many more in need.

After putting out an email blast to our loyal friends and readers, coupled with a few phone calls and letters to the local media, we found the response was unbelievable and with this we were able to exceed our goals.

This year we were able to reach many towns in the area and one very exceptional family in upstate New York.

We were able to distribute 25 food baskets filled with enough food items for three meals per family and more. Toy, food and clothing items provided to more than 200 children, 83 families, seven organizations and several senior citizens.

This was all made possible by a great group of individuals and sponsors.

Sponsors this year were Haymond Law, Baumann & Son's Bus Company of Ridgefield , Party Depot of Ridgefield , Danbury Harley Davidson , Ultimate Restorations, Levine Automotive, Tri-State Choppers and Body Graffiti Tattoo.

Collection locations included All Levine Automotive locations, Uncle Al's Hot Dog & Grill, Candlewood Valley Motors, New Milford Cycle, Danbury Powersports, Davis & Hoyt of Brookfield, Body Graffiti Tattoo and Food Mart of New Milford.

Special thanks for their exceptionally generous donations goes out to Haymond Law, Danbury Harley Davidson, The Hat City Riders of Danbury,
The Guardians Motorcycle Club of Litchfield , CARS of New Milford, Penn Gardner of Danbury, Big Bob of Spotlight On, Street Light of Bethel, Lia's Leather and especially the residents of Ridgefield and the Fill the Bus Toy & Food Drive sponsored by Baumann & Son's Bus Company, The Ridgefield Bus Drivers, Peoples Bank and our friends, Ben Piccolino , John Girolametti and store manager Jeanette Forcelli of Party Depot, Ridgefield.

This event was coordinated by Dan "Santa" Finn of Ridgefield with the help of Mike Snodgrass , both Ridgefield bus drivers.

Last but not least, thank you to my friend Carl "Santa's Workshop" Edmiston for helping store and sort the collected items in time for Christmas and to Judge "Santa's Helper" Marty, for helping with distribution in the Greater New Milford area and to my old friend
Wayne Morrison and the Rock 4 XMAS crew for their donation of more than 90 official WWE T-shirts and other items that helped greatly with those teenage boys on our list.

We are also very thankful to Webster Bank of New Milford and the participants of the 2008 Car & Bike Toy Cruise held at that location, to Uncle Al's Hot Dog & Grill with their Meet Santa Toy Collection, Candlewood Valley Motors Meet Santa Collection, my old friend Joe Martin and friends at Danbury Hospital and to the Danbury Westerners for including our collection as part of their 2008 Christmas party and its participants for their thoughtful donations.

Special celebrity appearances this year included Late Night Show host David Letterman , Connecticut state Senator Michael A. McLachlan and stateSenator David Cappiello.

If you would like to be a part of this great event next year, email Don Clady at or visit us online at .

Thank you for another great year.

Don Clady

Connecticut Cruise News

26th Annual

Toy & Food Drive