The season of giving is slim this year as donations are down across Washtenaw County for the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots campaign.
"We've been hit pretty hard this year," Tony Gillum, program coordinator for Washtenaw County said. "We've had about 250 families sign up for gifts but we aren't seeing the amount of donations we've had in years past."
The mission of Toys for Tots, which officially began in October and runs through Dec. 22, is to collect new, unwrapped toys, which will be distributed as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children.
"We've got a lot of families that are in need of a little help this year," Gillum said. "We've been trying to spread the word as much as possible."
Gillum said monetary and toy donations are down by roughly 50 percent nationally from last year.
"It's absolutely horrible," he said. "By now we're usually getting larger monetary donations to buy toys with, but we haven't seen that yet."
Gillum said the program has multiple drop-off locations throughout the county, including Busch's, LaFontaine Chevrolet and Alpha Coney Island in Dexter, as well as locations in Chelsea, Saline and Ypsilanti.
Ronnie Gillum, who assists his brother with the distribution of gifts, said the campaign is in desperate need of toys for girls ages 2-12 and boys ages 8-12.
"We get a lot of basketballs and footballs, but very few toys," he said.
Tony Gillum said in the past that families were required to go through a screening process and fill out an application before being approved. The application process is still in effect, however, to expedite the program, families can pick up gifts the same day they fill out an application, if approved, rather than having to return on predetermined date.
To qualify for the Toys for Tots program, Washtenaw County residents can fill out an application at www.toysfortots.org or at any of the Toys for Tots sponsors throughout the county. Applicants will go through an extensive screening process and must bring proof of family income, birth certificate, photo identification and proof of residency.
"We're trying to limit the crowds this year by having families fill out the application and pick up toys on the same day," Gillum said.
For more information on the Toys for Tots gift drive, visit www.toysfortots.org or call 734-834-0802. Monetary donations for Toys for Tots can be mailed to 8875 Meadow Lane, Ypsilanti, MI., 48197.
Toy drop off locations
- Busch's Fresh Food Market, 7080 Dexter Ann Arbor Rd.
- LaFontaine Chevrolet, 7120 Dexter-Ann Arbor Rd.
- Wackenhut Gartens, 11506 Jackson Rd.
- Chelsea Village Hardware, 110 N. Main St.
- Saline Fire Department, 100 N. Harris St.