With Christmas Days Away, Toys For Tots Struggles To Meet Demand

With Christmas Days Away, Toys For Tots Struggles To Meet Demand

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PHILADELPHIA -

There's a great need to make sure children wake up Christmas morning with something under the tree.

But times are hard, and donations are down.

In this video report, FOX 29's Bruce Gordon has what you can do to assist.

If this, the armory in Center City, is Santa's Village, then this bearded gentleman, must surely be Santa.

"Tell your children you love them. "Thank you, ma'am," says Retired Navy Captain Howard Serlick, who runs this Philly Toys For Tots operation.

That includes everything from coordinating distribution – "Merry Christmas, get your toys and get out!" he says, drawing laughs – to feeding his hungry elves.

"One large pepperoni," he calls out. "One large sausage..."

In a typical year, nearly a 100,000 donated toys will flow out of this building to wide-eyed kids whose parents, if they have them, can't afford a tree, much less the gifts beneath it.

Yani Williams' Your A.O.K. Foundation brings food, clothing and furniture to low-income families. She just arrived to pick up her Toys For Tots goodies for her young clients.

"Oh, my goodness, they're going to be ecstatic," Williams said. "They're going to be happy. The parents, you know, the pressure is off."

But this year, the pressure is on.

Santa, er, Serlick says toy donations are barely half of what they were last Christmas, and it's getting late.

"We're in big trouble," he said. "Literally, I haven't seen it this bad."

Serlick says he has no idea why donations are down, just that they are.

And that's forcing Toys For Tots to turn down some groups, limit distribution to others and leave the rest hanging.

"We don't want to make promises to people that we can give them toys when we don't have the toys. So, we put them in 'pending' status. And, as you can see, we're on the precipice of Christmas."

Gordon said, "You've got a lot of pending."

"I've got a lot of pending," Serlick answered.

Toys For Tots is particularly short on gifts for older girls, aged 13 to 16.

But throughout the building, there are too many empty boxes, each one symbolizing a child who may have to go without.

Serlick reflects back on his own childhood, saying, "I had great holidays. I want other people to have that. It's not a crime to be a poor child."

It is not too late to donate gifts or cash to the Toys For Tots effort. All local donations are distributed locally.

One reminder: No toy guns.

You can drop of toys at the Armory on 22 South 23st or Click here for a link to the Toys For Tots program.

You just might be able to make a real happy Christmas for a deserving child.

 

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