CHICAGO - The Marillac Social Center is bustling with young people playing, dancing and learning, but one part of the building is strangely quiet and empty: the room where Marillac St. Vincent Family Services collects donations of Christmas toys.
"Usually our room is about half full right now and we don't have any toys right now," said Stephen Barker, communications director.
The toys are collected for the organization's annual Christmas store in which neighborhood families 'shop' for holiday gifts, a tradition that goes back to the 1960s.
"We really make Christmas for these families. Every kid gets not only a big toy but stocking stuffers, books, DVDs, clothes," Barker said.
One youth counselor recalled down the Christmas stored helped to brighten his holidays when he was a child.
"Kids love toys! So of course to have no toys with Christmas three weeks away isn't a good thing," said Vincente Taylor, youth counselor.
Click here for more information on the Marillac St. Vincent Family Services Christmas store, including how to donate and to view the charity's Amazon wish list.
Marillac St. Vincent Family Services officials said they aren't sure why donations are down for 2016, though they said the "political climate" may be one possible reason. They encourage Chicagoans to remember their neighborhood organizations this holiday season.