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FARMINGTON — Volunteers for the local Toys for Tots drive are preparing for this year’s effort after receiving a national award earlier this year.

The Farmington Toys for Tots drive was selected as the 2015 national local community organizer of the year by the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation.

Jason Crawford, local Toys for Tots coordinator, said he was speechless when he found out about winning the award in July. The local group was selected from about 800 Toys for Tots drives nationwide last year, he said.

Crawford said it was a big deal for him and fellow organizer Ron Paquin, a Farmington Police Department school resource officer, to be selected for the award by the commandant of the Marine Corps. The commandant is the highest-ranking officer in the Marine Corps.

This is the 18th year for Crawford to coordinate the local Toys for Tots drive, which has collected more than 1 million new and unwrapped toys during his time with the campaign with the help of about 50 volunteers each year.

One of the reasons the Farmington drive was selected for the national award was its habit of including local students to help increase awareness of the campaign. This will be the fifth year for students to perform holiday music inside area businesses participating in the drive, Crawford said.

Daniel Fear, the coordinator of fine arts for the Farmington Municipal School District, said the idea developed from conversations he had with Paquin in 2011 about getting the Heights Middle School fine arts students involved in the toy drive.

Since then, multiple groups of elementary, middle and high school students in choir, band and orchestra have volunteered to perform for the drive.

“I think it’s been fantastic for the music kids,” Fear said.

Crawford said he has shared the idea with officials of other Toys for Tots drives, who have implemented the idea and experienced an increase in donations from previous years.

“It has had such an impact nationwide,” Crawford said.

A two-day fundraiser will take place Friday and Saturday at the McGee Park Memorial Coliseum. Local bands will play music during a truck show starting at 4 p.m. Friday.

On Saturday, a motorcycle ride and toy run will start at FRMF Choppers at E. 607 Animas St. in Farmington and leave for the McGee Park Memorial Coliseum at 1:30 p.m., where a bike rodeo will take place with live music.

Door prizes will be given away, and raffles will be held during the Saturday event. Admission is $10 or an unwrapped toy. For more information on the event, call 505-419-8500.

The local Toys for Toys website at farmington-nm.toysfortots.org and Facebook page at bit.ly/farmingtontoysfortots will be updated with information on future events, including a basketball tournament and a Zumba fundraiser.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.

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