OZONE PARK, N.Y. (NYRA) — The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) is proud to announce that it will continue its longtime support of the annual Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Foundation, which is being conducted virtually this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

NYRA encourages fans to donate online during the upcoming virtual weekend of giving on Friday, December 4; Cigar Mile Day on Saturday, December 5; and on Sunday, December 6. Members of the Marine Corps Reserve will use the funds to collect and distribute new and unwrapped toys for children and families during the holidays.

In contrast to previous years when NYRA and the Marine Corps Reserve set up donation boxes around Aqueduct Racetrack to collect toys, cash contributions, and checks for Toys for Tots, fans are asked to make donations online – via credit card with a secure one-step process; or by selecting and donating toys via the organization’s virtual toy box. This process also allows donations both this weekend and throughout the year.

“Unusual times call for creative solutions and by giving virtually, fans can continue the tradition of working with the Marine Corps Reserve to make sure children throughout New York City and across Long Island receive toys for the holidays,” said Vanessa Rodriguez Payne, NYRA Community Relations Manager. “New York racing fans and our employees have generously supported Toys for Tots for years, and we’re pleased to encourage that giving spirit again in 2020.”

As part of its support of the Toys for Tots Foundation, NYRA is making a financial contribution to the organization. Toys for Tots is also supported by generous contributions from the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (NYTHA) and thoroughbred owner Harold Lerner.

“NYTHA is proud to one again support the Marine Corps’ Toys for Tots Foundation and the outstanding work they do in bringing joy to children,” said NYTHA President Joe Appelbaum. “Our horsemen are a vital part of our local communities, and we strongly believe it is our responsibility to support our friends and neighbors during the holidays, and all year round.”

Lerner cited the age-old mission of making the holidays extra special for children as his reason for supporting Toys for Toys, now in its 73rd year of giving. “There has never been a more important time than now to lend a helping hand to our fellow New Yorkers,” he said. “I hope these acts of kindness will inspire the children receiving gifts to go on to do great things, knowing that there is a community that cares about them.”

Though New York state currently requires all racetracks to operate without spectators in attendance to combat the spread of COVID-19, the employees, horsemen and jockeys at Aqueduct will be able to leave donations of new and unwrapped toys for Toys for Tots this weekend in a bin outside the Jockey Room. Checks made out to the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots Foundation can be mailed to: U.S. Marine Corps; Attention: GySgt, John Sardine; 605 Stewart Avenue; Garden City, NY 11530.

Live racing resumes Thursday at Aqueduct with a nine-race card. First post is 12:20 p.m.