TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Toys for Tots has been helping make the holidays brighter for East Texas children in need.
As Good Morning East Texas Brennon Gurley reports, this year donations are falling short after the recent closing of a major retailer. There are some new challenges the organization is facing this year.
Every year, the Marine’s Toys for Tots drive collects thousands of toys for children in East Texas who otherwise might go without.
Brian Crews is the Coordinator for Toys for Tots in Angelina and Trinity County.
“There are enough problems in the world. We don’t want children growing up thinking that no one cares for them and that is the mission of Toys for Tots is to spread smiles,” Crews says.
But Crews says the drive is falling short because Toys ‘R’ US isn’t involved.
“We’re probably 20 percent down from what we normally would be simply because we did not have access to the toys that we would’ve normally purchased through Toys R US,” explains Crews.
Before declaring bankruptcy earlier this year, Crews says Toys 'R' US was a visible toy donation site across the nation; the stores also collected cash donations.
“We we’re probably getting $6,000 worth of toys with all the discounts. When you take the number of those toys and you bring back and you put those in your inventory that is a huge advantage,” said Crews.
The charity helps struggling families, but this year donations in Smith County are down about 40 percent.
”We’re very thankful you can see all the donations that we’ve gotten in so far. We really need like three times this much," says Krysabelle Gilbert, Coordinator, Toys for Tots in Smith County.
She says toys for tots would receive $ 5,000 annually and toy donations from the toy chain. “When Toys R US was it you knew when you went in there you could get toys for teenagers all the way down to toddlers,” explains Gilbert.
Without its largest corporate partner, Toys for Tots is now leaning on volunteers and local donations to make up for that loss.
“Regardless of how small your monetary donation is or the size of your toy the smiles are huge,” explains Crews.
There still time to donate. You can drop toys off at the distribution centers before the toy assortment happens this weekend.
- Smith County’s Toys for Tots Drop off location: Armed Forces Reserve Center 13592 HWY 31 W Tyler, TX
- Trinity and Angelina County Toys for Tots Drop off location: 2101 Centralia Avenue, Lufkin, TX 75904