PHILADELPHIA - The Marine Toys for Tots program is gearing up for its annual holiday drive, and celebrating its 75th anniversary.
"We take care of about 16,000 kids a year and we expect that to go up a bit with the way things are," Ed Kenney, Coordinator of Delaware County Toys for Tots, said.
But, Kenney and United States Marine Corp Staff Sergeant Abraham Escobar, in charge of Toys for Tots in Philadelphia, say they can’t do anything until both county programs secure warehouse space and they need homes, fast.
"We receive over 100,000 toys each year and, last year, we helped a little over 50,000 kids, so we need a really large warehouse," Staff Sgt. Escobar said.
"It’s a very big operation. We have to sort, store and distribute the toys," Kenney added.
"We’re coming into crunch time. It’s already end of September. October is around the corner and so we don’t wanna fall behind," Staff Sgt. Matthew Everett, with Philadelphia Toys for Tots, stated.
The coordinators say that previous sites they’ve used are unavailable in 2022 and finding a new spot in their respective counties has become a major challenge.
"Last week, I was running around to properties and cold calling," Kenney explained. "It’s extremely hard to get a hold of someone that is willing to help out."
"We drive around the Philadelphia area, looking for leases or places to lease," Staff Sgt. Everett commented.
"Mostly looking for someone to donate a warehouse. A large warehouse like that would cost too much money for us and it would hurt the campaign, instead of help it," Staff Sgt. Escobar remarked.
Both programs are looking for first floor space. The campaign is scheduled to kick off October 1st.
"Every kid deserves a little bit of Christmas," Kenney added.
Kenney says nothing compares to seeing the end result of this campaign and it must continue. "When the Marines gave the toys to the children, it was just something that warms your heart. The smiles and all that you see on the kids faces…I’d love to see somebody step up and help everybody out."
Anyone who can help these programs, please reach out to the local Toys for Tots coordinators:
Philadelphia Toys for Tots
USMC Staff Sgt. Abraham Escobar
Delaware Co. Toys for Tots