By 10am this past Thursday, December 24th, the Toys for Tots volunteers had wrapped up most of their deliveries throughout the community and were ready to stand down for the year.
Only a few cars were in the parking lot of the former Car Palace on North Main Street, this year’s temporary headquarters for the 2015 Toys for Tots campaign.
We’ve got to find a permanent place for our operations,” said Darlene Lopez, who was on her cell phone for most of the morning, coordinating deliveries from the volunteer drivers who were bringing presents to several hundred families through the morning. There were a few problems with deliveries, mostly with people not being home when the packages were being dropped off. Some houses were just empty as the former residents had moved on between the delivery date and the point where they made a request to be put on the delivery list. Lopez was pressed to figure out what to do with the last minute returns of gifts and meals. But it was something she had encountered for the past several years.
“We’re probably seeing people just move away from the area. Jobs are scarce and people are looking for work,” she explained. Lopez said the number of requests had also declined from the year before, and not because of any increase in prosperity for the area. The numbers had dropped this year to 434 families and approximately 650 youngsters on the delivery list from 1,120 the year before.
“We had an awesome turnout for deliveries which made the morning go quickly,” she explained, adding, “We had the Sheriff’s Posse show up and about five fire trucks on hand to help. We had a great turnout.” She mentioned that the dollar donations were off from last year, “But you make it work with what you got.”
By Russ Baldwin
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