Christmas toy donations this year are down and requests for assistance are up, an official with the Operation Holiday Toy Drive campaign said Tuesday.
The joint effort between the Merced County Sheriff’s Department and the county Human Services Agency has been an annual tradition for more than 10 years, but the campaign has been struggling to achieve its goal this year, according program co-coordinator C.J. Jones.
“It’s the economy; we’re a little slow this year, and we’re getting more requests than we have before, too,” Jones said Tuesday.
Jones said she has processed more than 350 requests for Christmas assistance this year. “And I still have a big stack on my desk waiting for me,” she said.
Jones said the holiday toy drive has collected nearly 200 toys for children since last week, and that includes a second push that was made Tuesday at the County Administration building on M Street, when an additional 50 or 60 toys were collected.
Last year, the program helped more than 1,100 families, including providing toys to more than 500 area foster kids.
Officials are seeking new, unwrapped toys as well as nonperishable foods and donations of money.
The campaign typically has trouble collecting donations for children up to 3 years old as well as for children ages 11 to 19. “Those are the toughest ages to buy for and we always need help with that group,” Jones said.
Campaign supporters have been known to dip into their own pockets to help the cause, but are hoping for more help from the community.
Donation barrels are located at the Human Services Agency, 2115 Wardrobe Ave.; the Family Resource Center at 1573 W. Main St.; the Mental Health Department at 480 E 13th St.; and the Public Health Department at 260 E. 15th St. through Dec. 20.
For more information, contact Deputy Delray Shelton at (209) 725-3949 or C.J. Jones of the Human Services Agency at (209) 385-3000, ext. 5285.