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Toys for Tots donations coming up short as Christmas looms

Three-year-old twins from Rowley donated toys to the Danvers Police Department last year. Joanne Rathe/Globe staff/Globe Staff

With only a few days left to collect toys in time for Christmas, the Greater Boston Toys for Tots group is struggling to meet this year’s high demand for donations.

Toys for Tots, which is run by the US Marine Corps, collects toys to provide gifts for the holiday season to needy children across the country. The organization sends the toys it collects to various organizations around the city — such as church groups, Boys and Girls Clubs, and the Boston Housing Authority — which then distribute them to needy families.

Toys for Tots received requests from 358 Boston-area organizations this year, compared with 322 organizations last year, said Vin Dolan, a spokesman for the charity.


Dolan said the charity has been overwhelmed by the demand this year, because not only are additional organizations requesting donations, most of the organizations are asking for more help.

“Right now we only have a week or so, and it doesn’t look like we’re going to be able to meet the demands,” Dolan said.

A kickoff ceremony on Nov. 24 began the donation drive in the Greater Boston area.

Since then, each State Police barracks, as well as most fire stations, and participating Walgreens stores and Bertucci’s restaurants have been diligently collecting toys, Dolan said.

Last year the organization met the demand for more than 162,000 toys. This year, Dolan said, the demand is “well over that figure,” possibly over 178,000. The increase in demand, which has been accompanied by flagging donations, is likely a result of the anemic economy, he said.

Dolan said Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh has been “very helpful” in garnering donations and promoting the program. Hoping to generate more attention for the donation drive this year, Walsh added a Christmas tree in the third-floor lobby of City Hall.

At the kickoff ceremony two weeks ago, Walsh said City Hall was “committed to collecting more donations than before.”


Even though Toys for Tots is short of its goal, Dolan said he is hopeful the organization will make a last-minute comeback.

“We’re going to do it, one way or another,” he said. “There are a lot of generous people out there. ... We always come through.”

Trisha Thadani can be reached at trisha.thadani@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @TrishaThadani.