With less than two weeks left to go, the Fresno Toys for Tots drive is short about 50,000 toys.
A growing demand for toys, fewer donations and a change in who coordinates the toy drive this year are making organizers nervous.
The Marine Corps League Detachment 14, a club of retired Marines in Fresno, has collected about 30,000 toys, but needs at least 50,000 more and possibly more than that, said Daniel Payne, commandant of the league detachment.
"The problem is you have more people out of work and can't afford to buy their kids toys," he said. "We're also losing donations as well."
Donations can be dropped off at boxes around the city. The United Way of Fresno County, which helps distribute the toys, has a list of locations on its website, unitedwayfresno.org. Popular drop-off sites include Hedrick's Chevrolet, and branches of Bank of the West and Central Valley Community Bank. Dec. 16 is the deadline to donate toys.
Part of the shortfall stems from a change in organizers. A detachment of active-duty Marines once based in Fresno used to handle the Toys for Tots drive here. But that detachment moved to Lemoore and is focusing on the Toys for Tots drive in Kings County this year.
The group of retired Marines took over the task of collecting toys in Fresno, but don't have the same connections or money as the previous organizers, Payne said.
"We are not going to let this program fail," he said. "The Marine Corps League will continue to do Toys for Tots.
Organizers are suggesting educational toys or games that families can play together. Board games, sports games or other toys that involve the entire family are recommended by gang-prevention experts, Payne said.
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