The Salvation Army is faced with the prospect of turning away about 500 families in need of Christmas presents if more toys aren't donated by Saturday.
That's the day when thousands of families will line up at The Salvation Army's toy and food distribution warehouse to collect gifts for their children, who might otherwise have nothing to unwrap on Christmas.
Salvation Army Capt. Michael Paugh said the charity is collecting toys for 3,300 area families, which average three children per household.
From 24 toy drives sponsored by businesses and municipalities around the county, The Salvation Army has received about 8,000 toys but needs at least 1,500 more.
Paugh said he isn't sure why the supply is short by nearly 20 percent this year but believes that by getting the word out, the organization will meet its goal on time.
"If 1,000 people go out Christmas shopping and each of them picks up an extra toy, that will just about do it," he said.
The warehouse on Mariposa Drive looked like Santa's workshop Saturday; volunteers with families' applications in hand bagged up toys from tables, organizing them by age and gender.
The table with infant toys was sparse, but not quite as empty as those for 11- and 12-year-old boys and girls.
And the table for girls 8 to 10 years old was empty. Applications from families with girls in that age group were put at the back of the stack, with hopes from volunteers that the table would be replenished when they again reached the front.
Delores Jolliff, who Paugh called the "toy guru," said craft-type toys such as jewelry or knitting kits are great for girls ages 8 to 12, and footballs and basketballs are always a hit with preteen boys.
Paugh also encourages people to volunteer during the toy giveaway Saturday at the warehouse.
"It's a great way to see what their money goes to and a great opportunity for families to come out and show what it means to give rather than receive," he said.
The giveaway starts at 8:30 a.m., but Paugh said people start lining up about 3 a.m.
People interested in volunteering can call Paugh at (209) 522-3209 or just show up at 8:30 a.m. at the warehouse, which is at 736 Mariposa Drive, Unit F.
Toys can be dropped off at The Salvation Army, 625 I St., from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. through Friday.
Another toy drive, the Soroptimist tree in Vintage Faire Mall, will close today. Every tag on the club's tree, which represents a child, has been taken. More than 1,000 gifts have been returned, but there are almost 400 outstanding tags, said project co-chairwoman JoAnn Found.
She said the gifts must be returned to the kiosk by the tree on the second floor of the mall near the Forever 21 store no later than 9 tonight.
Cash donations may be sent to P.O. Box 1353, Modesto 95353. The money will be used to buy gifts for the children with unreturned tags. Found said there usually are 30 to 50 of those every year.
Bee staff writer Erin Tracy can be reached at email@example.com or (209)578-2366. Follow her on Twitter, @ModestoBeeCrime.