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Marines Partner With Toys For Tots to Give Presents to Children With Autism and Disabilities

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U.S. Marines working with Toys For Tots are spreading the holiday cheer for hundreds of families with children on the autism spectrum this year. Peer Pals, a nonprofit organization in Oyster Bay, New York, recently opened a sensory-friendly play place where children on the spectrum can play with their neurotypical peers and other kids with disabilities. There was just one problem: Peer Pals had no toys for the children to play with.

Now, thanks to a group of Marines and Toys For Tots, Peer Pals and the families it services have $20,000 worth of toys to play with.

“Why do I do it? Because it brings a joy to me, because growing up I didn’t have an opportunity to have a new unwrapped toy,” Staff Sargent J.D. Quinton told CBS New York.

The Marines participating made sure to pick toys that were sensory-friendly, opting for toys with lights, sounds and a more tactile experience. The toys will be available to the 200 plus families who attend Peer Pals free play programs. In addition to its sensory-friendly space, Peer Pals also coordinates one-on-one playdates, matching preschool age children with disabilities with typically developing children in their communities.

Originally published: December 2, 2016
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