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High demand for Marine Toys for Tots donations

Officials with Marine Toys for Tots, a campaign that collects toys and books for kids who are less fortunate, say demand is higher than expected this year.

“Considering the economic turnaround that we, that you and I, have encountered, unfortunately, there are many families out there that have not,” said Lt. Gen. Pete Osman, president and CEO of Marine Toys for Tots. “In fact, the number of less fortunate children is actually increasing.”

There are lots of ways to assist the campaign by donating time, money or toys.

“Buy a couple of extra toys or books, and drop them in one of our collection barrels. That’s the easiest way,” Osman said. “Whatever you would want to purchase for your son or daughter or grandchild is exactly what we’re looking for.”

Suggestions include sports equipment, backpacks and makeup kits. Osman said you can’t go wrong with any of today’s “electronic gizmos.”

Donate money and Osman said you can be assured your money will be well spent.

“Ninety seven cents out of every dollar goes to the purchase of toys and books,” Osman said. “There’s very small overhead, none of which are salaries — it’s fundraising costs. Not one dime donated goes to pay anybody’s salary. You donate online, it’s going to buy toys and books.”

All the volunteers involved in the effort help keep costs down.

Volunteering might involve going to a local warehouse to help sort big bins of toys by age and gender. Then, you might end up bagging up toys for distribution or taking them to the families yourself.

“It’s entirely up to the individual — how much time they have,” Osman said.

This is one of the last weekends for shopping before the winter holidays get underway. Hanukkah starts Dec. 22, Christmas is Dec. 25, and Kwanzaa begins Dec. 26.

Ideally, donations would be made before it gets very late in the month, but Osman said anytime really is a good time because toys not distributed this year will be held in reserve to help kick off next year’s campaign. There are more than 800 campaigns this year nationwide, including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

You can connect with a Marine Toys for Tots campaign closest to you on their website, toysfortots.org.

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