Valley Toys for Tots faces major challenges

FRESNO, Calif.

Toys for Toys donations are already being boxed up and prepared for kids around the Valley. Retired personnel from the Marine Corps League are now filling a major void. Organizers weren't sure the toy drive would continue but Sierra Vista Mall in Clovis stepped up and offered space to store the toys.

Retired Staff Sergeant William Cardinal said, "We were actually going without a warehouse for a while. We almost had to call it quits. But you know, we didn't want the program to die up here in Fresno."

People have grown accustomed to dropping off toys to U.S. Marines in their dress blues but that won't be the case this year in Fresno County. May Her of the United Way explained, "It's because we no longer have a base here for the U.S. Marines. They're now located in Lemoore so because there isn't a base in Fresno county they're no longer responsible for the Toys for Tots program in Fresno county."

The United Way of Fresno County remains an active partner in Toys for Tots. Cardinal led the drive which collected over 65,000 toys and $120,000 last year. Resources have been greatly reduced but the need has grown. Without a big warehouse the toys will be delivered as soon as the United Way processes requests.

"In the past we've kind of held on to things a little bit longer, let stuff build before we pushed it out. Well this time as it comes in it's going to back out the door so it can get in the hands of children," Cardinal said.

"The other piece that we lose is the use of the marine trucks to help us move all those toys," Her said.

Organizers are how asking businesses and volunteers to help pick up and deliver toys during the holidays. ABC30 remains a proud sponsor the Toys for Tots drive.

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