An ominous virus and frigid temperatures have not stopped one state senator from collecting toys for families in need this holiday season.

State Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr, of Gloucester, has teamed up once again with local radio station North Shore 104.9 to host its annual “North Shore Holiday Toy Drive with Senator Bruce Tarr” across nine communities in 10 days.

“There has been a lot of changes,” Tarr said about this year’s drive in comparison to those of the past. “All of our lives have had to change, but the one thing for all of us is we know that we still want to help kids on the North Shore during the holiday season.”

To move forward with that mission during the COVID-19 pandemic, the radio station and Tarr’s office have had to make adjustments to the annual event.

The first change is that, to prevent spread of the virus, Tarr was not able to do the day-long broadcast where he travels from Lynn to Cape Ann.

Instead, Tarr and the radio station adapted the drive to 10 days — from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11 — where Tarr does a remote broadcast highlighting each community — Lynn, Salem, Danvers, Middleton, Ipswich, Peabody, Rockport, Beverly and Gloucester.

This broadcast can be heard from noon to 2 p.m. daily through Friday by tuning in to North Shore 104.9.

The collaborative toy drive is also seeking a different kind of donation this year for charities that are supporting those in need, which include Ipswich Caring, Cape Ann Kids Holiday Fund, Beverly Bootstraps, Family & Children’s Services in Lynn, and Neighbors in Need program at Flint Public Library in Middleton.

“We literally usually have boatloads of toys and it is really inspiring to see as we move forward with the day,” Tarr reminisced.

Gift cards and cash contributions are recommended this year, which can be donated by going to www.northshore1049.com/toydrive/ and selecting one of the charities to support.

With seven of the 10 days of toy drive wrapped up like a present on Christmas, Tarr admits there have been a lot of surprises.

“Without exception, the great surprises have been the spontaneous gifts that have been given to the effort by a lot of great people,” Tarr said.

Throughout the week, Recovery Centers of America, Brookline Bank, Aubuchon Hardware, Institution for Savings, Teresa’s Hospitality Group, Cape Ann Savings Bank, and Lyon & Waugh Auto Group all supported the toy drive in a myriad of ways.

One generous couple, Bob and Jan Tyler-Nelson, of Newbury, presented a U-Haul filled with toys for this year’s drive.

“Changing the toy drive this year, we have seen such a great outpouring of donations and holiday spirit even though we can’t be together,” said Erika Hemingway of North Shore 104.9.

Taylor Ann Bradford can be reached at 978-675-2705 or tbradford@gloucestertimes.com.

TUNE IN

The 2020 North Shore Holiday Toy Drive with state Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr will remotely broadcast from noon to 2 p.m. on:

Thursday, Dec. 10, at Aubuchon Hardware, 50 Enon St.(Route 1A), Beverly.

Friday, Dec. 11, at Cape Ann Savings Bank, 109 Main St., Gloucester.

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