Volunteers are continuing to collect donations for the area Toys for Tots campaign. With a week left to donate, officials say they are still below where they would like to be in order to meet the needs of Southwest Georgia children.
ALBANY — With less than a week left, officials coordinating the area Toys for Tots campaign — which is part of the Department of Defense’s largest outreach program — say that donation traffic is slower than they hoped it would be this year.
As of Thursday, roughly 10,000 toys had been collected at the campaign’s warehouse on West Broad Avenue.
“It is slower than we thought it would be,” said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Lennox Bennett, who is assisting with the collection effort. “A lot of it is due to the economy, but our goal is to support all the folks signed up.
“Plus, more people are signed up, so there is less of a capacity of donations (to support the regional need).”
The local effort provides to families in Dougherty, Worth, Lee, Early, Baker, Miller, Calhoun and Turner counties. Last year, there were 7,000 children in the region as a whole supported by Toys for Tots, Bennett said.
According to Salvation Army officials, 1,127 of those children — comprising 593 families — were from Albany alone. This year, it is up to 1,388 children in 689 Albany families.
“The Salvation Army is honored to be partnered again with Toys for Tots,” said Albany Salvation Army Captain Douglas McClure. “Toys for Tots is a wonderful organization which strives year after year to provide toys to thousands of children in our area. It is the largest public outreach of the military and government.”
Presently, the greatest toy shortage is for infants up to age 2, and ages 8 and up for both boys and girls. The program provides for children in underprivileged families up to age 12.
The goal for the region as a whole is to collect 40,000 toys.
“We are pretty confident we will meet our goal,” Bennett said. “The community has never let us down.
“We are trying to make sure as many kids as possible have a good Christmas.”
This year, the Salvation Army has partnered with the Lily Pad Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Center to assist some of the families utilizing its services, McClure said.
There are still Toys for Tots collection bins at most major points in the area. Collections will continue until Thursday, and the toys will be distributed to families at the campaign’s warehouse on Dec. 17.
Registrations from families were taken Oct. 24-Nov. 4. Within the first few days, only 150 Albany families had signed up to receive toys, prompting officials to reach out to the public to ensure families in need were signed up.
Last year, in late November, donations for the Toys for Tots drive were down 80 percent from the same time in 2009. An appeal was made for donations, allowing officials to meet their goal.
The campaign — which serves as an avenue for the U.S. Marine Corps, charity organizations and the community to reach out to needy families — seeks unwrapped toys with a $15-$20 value.
For more information on the donation process, call (229) 639-8787 or visit www.albany-ga.toysfortots.org.