Toys For Tots Marathon Weekend

FRESNO, Calif.

                  |   Watch Video Above for Extended Coverage   |

April Mendez and her three kids are grateful to be surrounded by the comforts of home, in a home that is not theirs. The family is among those staying at the Angels Of Grace transitional home for former foster children in east central Fresno.

"Even if it's the smallest thing, because they're so young, it would really mean a lot to them. So to me, it means a lot just to see the smile on their face," Mendez said.

The home's founder, Lisa Casarez says without Toys For Tots, the space under the Christmas tree would remain bare. "Everybody could just say, it's not that big of a deal, it's just one gift, but that one gift could make a world of difference to a child," Casarez said.

In the past -- Casarez and other non-profit groups knew Toys For Tots would come through for the valley's needy families. But not this year, "The requests went up and the toys went down."

Toys For Tots organizers say there just aren't enough donations coming in to meet the demand of 136,000 toys.

"It's the hardest thing to have to do, I don't like doing it. I would love to fill every order as they ask for them. But you can't because you don't have that many toys," Linda Dippel said.

Only 6,500 toys have been collected so far for Sgt. Chris Lecureux, this nearly empty warehouse in south Fresno is a discouraging sight. "It's bad to say, but if the community doesn't find ways to step up either with monetary donations or dropping off toys, Christmas won't happen for 80,000 kids."

This year -- with so little toys and so little time, toys for tots is asking for monetary donations over toy donations. The marines can stretch every dollar with bulk buying power.

But at this point -- they say -- they're just hoping for a miracle.

So that on the morning of December 25th--thousands of children will still believe in the magic of Christmas.

CLICK HERE for drop-off location and donation information
Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.