Kids talk, parent’s rock, ‘tots’ benefit

Published: Sunday, November 22, 2009

Click to enlarge

By Tom Caprood

The Record

Samantha Salvadore is not sure if she wants to talk to Santa, a.k.a. Ernie Bariteau, at the Christmas Party in Waterford Saturday. (Photo by Jeff Couch)

WATERFORD — Times are tough across the nation with the current economy, but that didn’t stop people from across the Capital District from flocking to a local restaurant Saturday to support a worthy holiday cause.

Costanzo’s Riverside Restaurant at 405 Hudson River Road hosted the 11th annual Rock for Tots New York concert from 3 p.m. until midnight, inviting individuals from around the area to enjoy an evening of fun for a small fee as well as the donation of a new, unwrapped toy.

Earlier in the day, , a children’s lunch with Santa Claus was held where youngsters had their opportunity to talk to Santa in exchange for a donation of a new toy.

The afternoon and evening events were designed to benefit the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots program, which distributes donated toys to needy children at Christmas.

In 1999, the event collected 400 toys for the charity and has been filling truckloads with between 1,500 and 3,000 toys in recent years. U.S. Marines on site described the concert as one of the biggest Toys for Tots events in the area.

Andy Walters, the event organizer, said that the concert first came to be when, as commander of the local Sons of the American Legion, he had to decide which charity he wanted to support.

“I chose Toys for Tots,” said Walters.

“After the first year I didn’t expect to be doing a second year, or even 11 years, but the community was strong with support and they wanted to come to the next one,” he continued. “So we kept the ball rolling and every year it has grown.”

This year’s concert featured live music from Acoustic Trauma, Tetonka, The All Paul Show — a Beatles/Paul McCartney tribute band, Ohms Law, 28N, Wylder, Winchester and Young.

There was also a raffle for an autographed guitar signed by Sarah Buxton, Heidie Newfield, The Tractors, Jason Michael Carroll, Eddie Montgomery and Troy Gentry, and Buddy Jewell and a dinner buffet held throughout the early evening.

By the time the first individuals showed up for the event, two tables were already full of toys.

“This is nothing yet,” said Walters.

Kathy Nahm and her husband Jim donated more than $400 in toys for the event and said they have tried to attend the concert almost every year that it has been going on.

“There are two things that I’m very passionate about — kids should have toys at Christmas and our service men and women and veterans should always be supported,” said Nahm. “So those are the two donations I give to extremely heavily.”

While they always give generously, Nahm said she had been very lucky at a casino on their recent vacation.

“I took that money and put it right in for the kids,” said Nahm, who noted that she enjoyed how the event was put on each year and tied to the entertainment. “There’s good music, good food, good company, and a great cause.”

Alan Hein, manager of Costanzo’s, said that the event had a fantastic turnout each year, even in 2008 when the economy was starting to take a turn for the worst.

“That just goes to show you the spirit of giving around here,” said Hein, who noted that customers who couldn’t make the event began presenting him with donations as early as last week. “It really is fantastic.”

Walters said that he expected people from six counties, including Saratoga, Rensselaer, Albany, Warren, Greene and Schenectady, to attend the concert and support the cause.

Tom Caprood can be reached at 270-1278 or by e-mail at

Comments: The following are comments from the readers. In no way do they represent the view of

Waterfordian wrote on Nov 22, 2009 11:56 AM:

" I had the pleasure of attending this event once again. What a wonderful start to the Christmas season. The entertainment was amazing and the food was delicious. I would like to thank Andy Walters for putting this event together for so many years. What a wonderful thing you are doing for the children. I would also like to thank Costanzo’s Restaurant and their employees, the Rock For Tots volunteers and the wonderful performers. You guys are the greatest!!!! "





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Rock For Tots NY, USA - Andy Walters Host

Keith Anderson, Deana Carter, Ric Ocasek, Billy Ray Cyrus, Cat Southern, Chantelle Paige, and Bucky Covington are among the many extraordinary musicians who sponsor Rock For Tots.

" Every Child Deserves to have a Christmas"   Andy Walters

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I've written this recommendation of your work to share with other LinkedIn users.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           From: Toys For Tots Coordinator, Fox Company,2nd Battalion, 25 Marines  / 2008

To: Andrew Walters, Rock For Tots NY Subj: REQUEST FOR COMMUNITY SUPPORT AND AUTHORIZATION TO USE THE TOYS FOR TOTS NAME This year's Toys For Tots Christmas Campaign is going to be tougher than years past . Due to the recent deployment of our Reserve Marines, the success of our campaign is going to weigh heavily on the support and volunteers of our surrounding community. Last year, like years past we were able to utilize our Reserve Marines to collect, sort, and distribute toys for the families of our responsible area. Last Year that was approximately 67,000 toys. This year we are reaching out to our Marine Corps Leagues and community supports from past years to fill in as much as possible. Any Assistance we receive through fund raisers, local Marine & Navy Leagues, civilian and Veteran organizations,committees or groups is greatly appreciated. Rock For Tots NY has been a major contributor for the past 9 years. This Year Rock For Tots has some great ideas to help collect more toys in order to fulfill the ever growing toy requests. This Letter authorizes Andrew Walters and Rock For Tots New York to negotiate support and sponsorship under the Toys For Tots name for our local Albany NY Campaign. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me at (518) 489-4221 ext. 115 Sincerely, Staff Sargeant Mary Castilla Toys For Tots Coordinator Albany NY ....


In Recognition Of

Andrew Walters

For His unselfish dedication to the children of

the Town of Waterford through the

"Rock For Tots" Program.

Presented by the Town Board

of the Town Of Waterford

February 7, 2006

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