Christ­mas presents not as plen­ti­ful as past

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Danika Wor­thing­ton

Not hav­ing enough elves in Santa’s work­shop this year may leave the area un­der some kids’ Christ­mas trees bar­ren.

The Den­ver-area Toys for Tots pro­gram has been able to distribute only 10,000 toys as of Tues­day, far fewer than the more than 100,000 toy re­quests it has re­ceived from non­prof­its, said Staff Sgt. Jon Kilpela, co­or­di­na­tor of the Aurora pro­gram that over­sees seven Colorado coun­ties.

“The com­mu­nity still seems re­ally in­volved, and every­body seems re­ally geared to­ward mak­ing this pro­gram suc­ceed,” Kilpela said. “We just need more toys.”

Toys for Tots is a 69-yearold U.S. Marine Corps char­i­ta­ble pro­gram that pro­vides toys to dis­ad­van­taged chil­dren. The Marine Toys for Tots Foun­da­tion and lo­cal Marines have bought some toys, but Kilpela said the or­ga­ni­za­tion “can’t do it with­out the sup­port of the com­mu­nity. It will al­ways be com­mu­nity driven.”

Last year, Toys for Tots re­ceived roughly 5,000 toys by Oct. 31. This year, it didn’t hit that num­ber un­til De­cem­ber, Kilpela said. At the same time, re­quests have in­creased.

“All the events com­ing around this year, they’ve been great,” Kilpela said. “But they just haven’t been bring­ing in toys like they did last year.”

Kilpela could not say why dona­tions are down. Gifts still are trick­ling in from drop-off boxes, so he also isn’t sure how many re­quests may have to be de­nied.

As of now, Toys for Tots is warn­ing the more than 300 non­prof­its and schools that asked for toys to start look­ing for other donors.

But that’s an op­tion eas­ier said than done.

The Ep­worth Foun­da­tion, to which Toys for Tots gave 1,000 gifts, is one of the few non­prof­its that re­ceived toys, spokes­woman L.J. Harker said. She said the foun­da­tion has re­ceived calls from mul­ti­ple school so­cial work­ers des­per­ately search­ing for toys.

“I’m send­ing out fran­tic e-mails with ev­ery­one we part­ner with to see what we can do,” Harker said.

Toys for Tots prefers dona­tions to be in by Dec. 22 so the gifts can be dis­trib­uted in time, Kilpela said.

Those in­ter­ested in do­nat­ing can go to the pro­gram’s ware­house at 3410 Brighton Blvd. from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mon­day through Satur­day. But the ware­house is un­heated, so it may open later on par­tic­u­larly cold days.

Potential donors can also make a do­na­tion on­line at aurora-co.toys­for­tots.org.

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