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John Roque, manager of Wireless Zone in NK, is pictured with the store’s Toys for Tots donation box. People can drop off unwrapped toys at the location until Dec. 22.

NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. —  It’s Christmastime again in South County, and while many things may look different this holiday season, others remain the same, such as the demand for donations of toys, clothing and other gifts for children in need – something which, if anything, has gone up as the COVID-19 pandemic has gone on.

Luckily for those who can and are looking to make donations this month, The Wireless Zone, a Verizon authorized retailer with five Rhode Island locations, including in North Kingstown and Wakefield, has once again partnered with the United States Marine Corps for their annual Toys for Tots donation drive, accepting donations in store during business hours through Dec. 22.

“When we were asked to be involved, we were happy to jump on it,” Wireless Zone North Kingstown manager John Roque said. “We have five stores so we love doing charity events, even last year we held an adoption day for pets, so we love giving back.”

For Roque, who’s been with the company for five years, it’s always been one of the more prominent events of the year. He noted that in years past, the stores have collected a sizable amount of donations for local children in need.

This year, however, Roque says the donations haven’t been coming in at the numbers he’s seen in years past, something he attributes to COVID-19.

“It’s definitely slower (this year),” Roque said. “We’re not getting as much (donations), I think people are just, because of COVID, they’re not out as often for those types of things or not thinking about it as much.”

While he believes donating if you can is important every year, he said it is particularly essential this year.

“I think it’s important no matter what, but given now, moreso, because it’s very easy to feel like you’re alone, especially when you have to stay home all the time,” Roque said.

While Toys for Tots collects for children and teens of all ages, Roque said they particularly need toys for younger children this year.

“Anything is accepted, but if people could target younger kids, I think that would be sweet,” Roque said. “I mean, who needs to be uplifted more than a young kid who has nothing during these times?”

After initially collecting up until this Friday, they decided to expand through Dec. 22 in hopes of receiving more donations.

The Wireless Zone has two locations in South County, one in North Kingstown in The Shoppes at Quonset Point and the other at the Wakefield Mall. Both are open Mondays through Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Their three other locations in Cranston, Warwick and Cumberland are all also collecting donations.

For more information on Toys for Tots, visit toysfortots.org.

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