Tampa, Florida -- Imagine having to tell thousands of kids they will not be getting any presents this year. That's what volunteers with the annual Toys for Tots holiday drive are worried about.
Kevin Hardy has been working for the U. S. Postal Service as a letter carrier for 16 years, but during this time of the season, he takes on a different role. He's working to spread holiday cheer, talking with homeowners on his route about the annual "Toys for Tots" drive. Postal carriers collect gifts for needy families in the Bay area.
"It's important because it's an easy thing to do. Customers can leave an unwrapped toy by their mailbox and we pick it up," Hardy said.
Tough economic times have left a lot of families unable to provide presents for their kids this Christmas and, for twelve years, letter carriers have helped fill the void by collecting toys.
"Obviously the need is growing more and more each year. We're up to over 20,000 families that are in need of toys this year, which equates too nearly 50,000 children," the letter carrier said.
The postal service is the largest contributor to the "Toys for Tots" drive and postal workers are gearing up for "Make it or Break it" Saturday -- that's when postal carriers collect gifts you put by your mailbox. The carriers work with the Marine Corps and hope to fill an old Winn-Dixie building with toys.
"Toys for Tots is huge because it brings a smile to a child's face that they otherwise may not get. Usually, they're the less fortunate in the community or something tragic has happened, their home has burned down recently and they have no access to this, other than through us," said Sergeant Casey Fulton of the U. S Marine Corp.
The Marines have been associated with the "Toys for Tots" drive for 63 years and say giving one toy can make a big difference. "Absolutely, at one time, this pile of toys in front of us was one toy and then another person gave and another and it became five and ten and by the end of this season, this one toy will add up to 50,000 toys," Fulton said.
Thousands of toys will put thousands of smiles on young faces this Christmas. You can also drop off toys for the drive at numerous locations around the Bay area.
You can find out where the drop off boxes are located by visiting the Marines Toys for Tots website at: http://tampa-fl.toysfortots.org/local-coordinator-sites/lco-sites/donate-toys.asp
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Melvin Beal, 10 News