WATERVLIET ARSENAL, N.Y. Aca,!aEURc The Watervliet Arsenal is well known for the manufacturing of military hardware for cannons, mortars, and artillery systems. But behind the 1800s-era facades that hide hundreds of machines that pound cold steel into weapon systems everyday are warm hearts.

Despite recent headlines of a slowing economy, which has negatively affected donations to charitable organizations nationwide in 2008, the Arsenal and its union, National Federation of Federal Employees Local 2109, collected nearly 500 toys and a cash donation of $500 this holiday season for The Salvation Army in Troy, N.Y.

According to Salvation Army Maj. John Riley, the Arsenal's gifts of toys and money supported the needs of hundreds of individuals and families.

"Many children will be very happy to receive gifts this year because of you, their Secret Santa angels," Riley said.

"This has been a tremendous year for the Arsenal and it only makes sense that we share our wealth with our community," said Col. Scott N. Fletcher, commander of the Arsenal.

Fletcher was addressing the Arsenal's efforts during the holiday season to not only collect donations to support local families this holiday season, but also by raising more than $47,500 for this year's Combined Federal Campaign that ended in November.

Fletcher highlights that although recent local business headlines have focused on job losses, business closures, or pay cuts, the Arsenal's production requirements have gone up by more than 25 percent this year and the Arsenal has been hiring.

NFFE representative Mike Bush said the union has been conducting toy drives for at least 19 years to support local families "in need" during the holiday season.

"This is a long-standing charitable event sponsored by NFFE and generously supported by the Arsenal workforce, to include the Arsenal Business & Technology Partnership's civilian business tenants," said Bush.

He went on to say that much of the success of the program goes to fellow Arsenal employee, Charlie Hannan. As a result of Hannan's energy and drive, the Arsenal's toy collection was at the same level as in previous years, said Bush.

"For nearly 200 years, the community has always supported the Arsenal. During these tough economic times it is the right thing for the Arsenal to pull together to support the community," said Fletcher.