Toys for Tots sees increase in need for Christmas gifts this year

Toys for Tots sees increase in need for Christmas gifts this year

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - As the pandemic puts families in new, difficult situations, volunteers want to make sure no kid in southeast Missouri goes without presents this Christmas.

“COVID can’t keep Santa away. Or a few good Marines,” said Matt McGill, Toys for Tots Southeast Missouri coordinator.

As toys start to fill a nearly empty warehouse, Matt McGill said more people need help with the holidays this year.

“We’ve been seeing a lot of different names and people have been calling specifically saying, ‘we’ve never gotten toys from your program, how do we connect with you to get toys? We’re both unemployed because of COVID,’” said McGill.

And that increase in demand brings new challenges to the team. McGill said they’re thinking outside the box to collect donations and fundraise.

This year, Toys for Tots will host a drive-thru toy drop in front of the empty building at 201 S. Silver Springs Road in Cape Girardeau. Toy donors can pull up, honk and a volunteer will help unload donations from the trunk for a zero contact drop-off. The drive-thru will be open starting November 30 from 10 a.m. till 8 p.m. on weekdays and will last through December 18.

“We’re gonna rise to meet that challenge and find the toys to get those kids some hope for Christmas,” he said.

To help do that, Toys for Tots partnered with The Cape Girardeau Jaycees. The campaign will cover Bollinger, Cape Girardeau, Scott and Stoddard counties.

“Tears shed. Lot of smiles. It’s very rewarding to be there and to play Santa, and have kids sit up on your lap and be excited about getting toys that they probably wouldn’t have gotten anyway,” said Cape Girardeau Jaycees President Jared Snell.

“In years past maybe, those children have been able to, the families have been able to just provide for the kids as they’ve needed, which is great, and this year is different,” said Lt. Matt DeGonia with the Cape Girardeau Salvation Army.

Lt. DeGonia sees the requests for gifts come in. He said it’s important for kids to experience the magic of the holidays.

“These types of things that we’re able to provide are obviously a big help to let people continue to feel the hope of the season and continue to feel really what the season is about,” he said.

Applications to request toys are due by Friday, December 4. This link has more information on how to apply. The Toys for Tots Facebook page also releases updates and information on events.

The next toy drive is Sunday, November 22 from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Whistle Stop Depot with the St Louis Iron Mountain and Southern railroad in Jackson, Missouri.

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