DENVER -- Denver's Toys for Tots is reporting it can only meet ten percent of the requests for toys because of a dramatic decrease in donations this year.
The U. S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program has received about 100,000 requests for toys, but has only been able to fill 10,000 and is now telling nonprofits to look for other sources for toys.
"Last year at the end of October, we had 5,000 toys. I didn’t hit that mark until December 2nd of this year," said Staff Sgt. Jon Kilpela, the Denver Toys for Tots Coordinator. "We’re going to fill as many requests as we can, but I’m going to have to turn people away."
Inside the Toys for Tots Denver warehouse at 3410 Brighton Boulevard, boxes are labeled with nonprofit names and lists of needed toys, but the shortage is having a ripple effect on other charities.
The Salvation Army gets about 40 percent of its toys from Toys for Tots.
"In terms of toy donations, we’re probably down more than I have ever seen it," said Lt. Col. Dan Starrett with the Salvation Army. "I don't know if their season started out so warm people didn't think about it. Maybe the need hasn't gotten out as much as it has in the past."
Unfortunately, he said, the Salvation Army is seeing an increase in homeless families needing help at the same time as they see a decrease in donations.
"What we’ve said is that we’ll try to help other agencies, and if we have to go out and buy toys, we’ll do that because we want to make sure that kids have toys to open on Christmas Day," said Starrett.
Kilpela said he had been planning a Friday deadline for accepting toys so there would be time for distribution, but because of the shortage, he will accept toys through the weekend.
"Without our assistance, these children will go wanting," he said. "It’s really heartbreaking. I mean so many people rely on us. We just don't want to let anyone down."
You can drop off new, unwrapped toys (no weapons or stuffed animals) at the warehouse at 3410 Brighton Boulevard.