Toys for Tots program staggers under increased demand, decreased donations


Our U.S. Marines need some reinforcements to stave off bleak, toyless Christmases for hundreds of Fayette and Coweta children, according to Hank Berkowitz, local Toys for Tots coordinator.

The volunteers currently are facing the prospect of not being able to supply the requests for items in hand at this time, and the requests for help continue to come in.

Local Marine Reserve helpers are making a big push this coming final weekend before Christmas. Marine Corps League members and supporters will be out all next weekend, Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at all local Walmart Stores (Peachtree City, Fayetteville and Newnan) and the Big Lots in Newnan.

“The Marine Corps Reserve Toys For Tots program, sponsored by Marine Corps League Detachment 1325, is struggling to meet the demand,” according to Berkowitz.

“Our goal is to provide at least two toys for every qualified applicant below the age of 13,” Berkowitz said.

“Toys For Tots wants to provide hope for our children. It is our mission to give that hope for those less fortunate who face a bleak holiday season without our efforts,” he said.

Berkowitz continues:

“This year has been a struggle from the outset. Our Marine Reserve volunteers recognized it might be an uphill battle with the possibility of increased applications and diminishing donations, given the economic conditions in our county. Even so donations have greatly diminished and applications have increased.

“With two weeks until Christmas when deliveries must be made, we have a steep mountain to climb.

“Can we visualize through the eyes of an imaginary 8-year-old child facing the prospect of their parent not being able to afford a new toy this holiday season?

“Toys for Tots embodies the true spirit of Christmas. The gift of a shiny new toy — something most children take for granted — means to a needy child that someone cares, that he/she hasn’t been forgotten and that Christmas hasn’t passed them by.

“We beseech you in our community to help us help the children. Monetary donations are needed to purchase toys for 10- to 13-year-old children for whom we do not receive enough age appropriate toys. We have an abundance of dolls and stuffed animals and would prefer other offerings for the younger children.

“Early last week the coordinator of the local Cancer Support Group gave me three applications for a mother who was losing her battle with cancer and had three young daughters between ages 9 and 12. We made sure that family celebrated Christmas a little earlier with Toys for Tots toys, prior to the mother departing on her last journey.

“We need all of our community organizations and businesses … to assist us in this season of caring and sharing. We have Toys for Tots donation boxes at all fire stations, Publix, Edward Jones financial offices, Walgreens, Atlanta Fitness, Southtowne and Toyota of Newnan, to name a few.

“Donations may also be made via this website or mail checks payable to Toys For Tots to PMB #201, 90F Glenda Trace, Newnan, GA 30265.

“Our volunteers will be in front of Walmart and Big Lots on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 17 and 18, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day in case people would like to drop off their donations in person.

“We thank you in advance for any assistance you might bestow upon us and upon our mission of serving.”

Hank Berkowitz is local coordinator for Toys for Tots.