Chicago Marines have collected gifts for children whose families have barely enough money to even dream of Christmas. Toys for Tots has run out of the Marine headquarters on West Foster Avenue for almost 50 years.
"We're looking for quality toys in the dollar amounts of $20 to $30 for children," said Gunnery Sergeant Michael Michalski, 2nd battalion 24th Marines.
So they're not asking for stocking stuffers. They're looking for solid, new toys that will last. And they should be unwrapped.
Toys for Tots began in 1947 in los Angeles and that year they collected 5,000 toys. Last year, across the country, the Marines collected over 16 million toys-- but that's still not enough. There are over 600 nonprofit organizations requesting toys this year from the Marines. It's a very tough order to fill.
"We're approximately 350,000 toys short and that is for the Cook County area alone," said Gunnery Sergeant Michalski.
Christmas Eve is just two weeks away from Friday. The biggest need is toys for infants to toddlers and 10 to 13 year olds.
"The age groups right now are between zero and two ... boys and girls. And, ten to thirteen on boys and girls as well," said Staff Sergeant Chad Falkos, Toys for Tots.
The Marines say it happens almost every year. Generous people dig deep to help out the needy children-- but for some reason the smallest and the biggest are forgotten.
"I believe the majority of the public when they go into a store go to the aisles for the middle ages from three to nine and don't go into the toddler section or the older children," Staff Sgt. Joseph Stekala, Toys for Tots.
There's still time to donate a toy, of course, or you can send a check to:
Toys for Tots
3034 West Foster Avenue
Chicago, IL 60625