Local Salvation Army, Toys for Tots groups say thousands of kids may not get gifts as donations drop

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AURORA, Ill. —  It’s been a devastating year for nonprofits, as many see donations go down and the need is greater than ever.

Organizations which typically step in to make sure no kid is left out during the holidays say they’ve also seen a significant drop in donations.

The Salvation Army in Aurora said Thursday their typically robust toy donation drive is down 75% this year. The shelves at its Aurora warehouse look empty. And while they’ve received around 2,500 requests for Christmas gifts for kids in need, organizers said they can only fill about 400.

Chicagoland Toys for Tots also canceled one of its biggest events of the year, the Toys for Tots Motorcycle Parade, which last year collected more than 34,000 toys for kids who live in shelters.

“Due to Covid 19, we cannot have a large event, but children still need toys and this year the
need is greater than ever,” Chicagoland Toys for Tots President George Lester Fortier said.

Some communities are stepping up to help when it’s needed most.

In Naperville, families of students at White Eagle Elementary School typically participate in the nonprofit’s Angel Tree, pulling a tag from the tree and buying whatever gift is on it for a kid in need. 

With school closed because of Covid, parent Angela Greco and other members of the school’s PTA moved the Angel Tree online and scrambled to get the word out.

As a mother of three, Greco said she wanted to help make sure other families have something to put under the Christmas tree.

“Everybody needs to do a little bit and make this world a better place,” Greco said.

The community responded more than she could imagine, providing enough presents to fill three Salvation Army trucks with hundreds of toys.

Those toys are heading to families like Tiffany Fraley, a single mom with two children who are home from school because of the pandemic, making it harder to work as much.

She said it’s been a very difficult year and every little bit helps.

Ways to help

Hoping people will step up during this time of great need, the Aurora Salvation Army is accepting donations online.

Chicagoland Toys for Tots is calling on people to turn out on December 6, the typical day of the parade, to drop off unopened gifts at one of their toy drop sites. They also have hundreds of drop boxes at various locations including every Chicago Fire Department location.

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