Toys for Tots needs more gifts for kids 10-13, Marines say

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Despite a stronger economy, Toys for Tots said the organization needs more gifts to make the holidays brighter for thousands of local children.

Gunnery Sergeant Jesus Castaneda coordinates the Toys for Tots campaign at the Marine Reserve Corps in North Park.

"We work 16-18 hours per day just to be able to accomplish our mission here, because not only do we distribute the toys, we have to collect them, and different types of donations," Castaneda said.

The 27-year-old radio communications specialist not only takes care of the receipt and delivery of the toys, he is a former Toys for Tots client.

"We had some unfortunate years. My parents had owned a business, we really didn't have a Christmas for a couple of years so we ended up going to a non-profit organization, a church, and ended up receiving a toy," Castaneda said. "I actually saw the same church I grew up requesting toys so I put two and two together."

Melissa Reese said the barracks have plenty of games, puzzles and toys for children between the ages of 5 and 9 years old, but they need more for children between the ages of 10 and 13. Kids that age really like electronics, she said.

"I feel like I am giving back to the community, a lot of the families don't have presents this year so it is giving the children something they can remember," Reese, a Toys for Tots volunteer, said.

In the last decade, Toys for Tots delivered nearly 17 million gifts to more than 13 million children.

To donate cash or find drop-off locations, click here.

Copyright © 2022 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.