LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - As Toys for Tots Coordinator Brian Crews sorts through the pile and piles of toys he does so knowing the Marine Corps League is still well short of their goal.
"We give as many toys per child as we can," Crews said. "We typically average five toys per child as of right now we're probably two to three toys per child less than that."
Part of the reason for the drop off in numbers right now is an increase in numbers of those applying for assistance from the group.
"In Angelina County alone we are just under 1,100 children and I think we are going to have around 850 children in Trinity County," Crews said. "We have about 170 more applicants this year then last year in Angelina County and ,I am not sure what that number is in Trinity County."
Crews said the increase in those seeking help could be attributed to the current economy in the Pineywoods that has seen a large amount of layoffs in the past 12 months from various industrial companies.
"Anytime there is an upset in the economy, we wind up seeing more applicants," Crews said.
The piles of toys in the staging area have items that range from balls, dolls, remote-controlled cars and helicopters to brand new Star Wars merchandise. All of the toys that are donated are brand new and then sorted out by age group.
"What we really need right now is for people to donate toys for new-born to 5 years old," Crews said.
The .corps has made new efforts in getting ,toys for the children.
"We had a great air show this year," Crews said. "We were able to take $10,000 and buys some toys and then we put back some money from the show to make it an annual event and make it better each year."
Crews said they also get help from national sponsors.
"We just got a good amount of bikes and helmets given to us by the Lufkin Wal-Mart," Crews said. "it is great to have that help."
With only a few days left in the fundraising campaign, Crews is hopeful for a Christmas miracle.
"It's just so heart warming to know that we're able to help the less fortunate in our community because as Marines that is part of our mission is to take care of our own," Crews said. "This is such a caring and compassionate community even when times are tough people still turn out in droves to help charities that are affected and really doing good work."
Toys for Tots has teamed up with Tri-Lakes Tackle to host a fishing tournament on December 12 at Cassles-Boykin Park in Zavalla. The entry fee for team is a brand new un-wrapped toy for a boy and girl. Sign-up starts at 5 a.m. and the first cast is at 7 a.m. The last cast will be 3 p.m. and weigh in no later than 4:30 p.m.
Crews said the group is accepting donations of toys and money through Dec. 16.
"All the realtors in town have a drop off box," Crews said. You can also go to any of the car dealers as well as credit unions to drop off. Most of the businesses have a box to put the toys in. You can also cal l us at the Marine Corps office and we will come pick up form you."
The number for the Marine Corps League is 936-366-3013.