FAIRFIELD — An annual toy drive by New Jersey-based DonateAToy.org is entirely virtual and contactless this year, partnering with Toys for Tots and New York Giants icon Lawrence Taylor in an expanded effort to get fun gifts to millions of kids for the holiday season.

Anthony Lombardi is the president and founder of DonateAToy.org, a division of fundraiser Fun Services of Fairfield, and he said that the idea for a virtual drive actually was hatched last year prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since that happened, though, "the platform has exploded," Lombardi said.

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Individuals can pledge a toy or toys, as can companies, nonprofit organizations, and police and fire departments. Those groups have all contacted Lombardi, he said, not only to see if they can participate, but also to find out how exactly the virtual toy drive is working, in hopes they may be able to do something similar.

For the individuals, Lombardi said the process is simple.

"Just go on DonateAToy.org and click on a toy, and it's 2-for-1," he said. "We're going to match every toy donation that's made on this site this year."

As for Taylor's involvement, that came into play when his foundation's usual golf outing in Florida was canceled due to COVID, and he brings obvious extra name recognition to the cause.

Because of the pandemic, Toys for Tots expects to struggle with donations this year, as millions of families rely on them around this time.

But under this collaboration, weekly toy deliveries are being planned and Lombardi said he and his wife hope to look back on this very different holiday season fondly.

"We'll think that we hopefully had a major impact on children all over the state of New Jersey this year," he said. "This is from my heart."

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