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Jacksonville Toys for Tots struggling to collect gifts

Volunteers believe two powerful storms, inflation and the pandemic impacted the amount of toys donated this year.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — On Giving Tuesday, there are still tens of thousands of children in Jacksonville in need as the holidays approach. 

Toys for Tots, a nonprofit organization, is helping to make sure they have presents under the tree. This year, however, presents a challenge. Volunteers are struggling to collect donations and gifts. 

Toys for Tots is Gunnery Sergeant Ryan Terry's way of paying it forward to the first coast. He said he lives for the moments seeing kids ecstatic about their gift. Sgt. Terry said his passion stems from him being a single father. To spread that holiday cheer, Terry and volunteers need more toys. He mentioned how the warehouse is usually packed with gifts. 

"Now we have 51,000 kids that are currently registered here in Jacksonville that are requesting assistance," Terry explained. "That's the most amount of children we have been able to try and provide toys to in the last four years."

Sgt. Terry believes the lack of donations are because of: recovering from Hurricane Ian and Tropical Storm Nicole, inflation and the pandemic. The marine said they need toys for girls between the ages of six and 14 - boys ages 10 to 14. The work load is expected to get heavier toward Christmas. Sgt. Terry said he is stressed, but he is not worried. 

"I do believe we are doing something good for Jacksonville," Sgt. Terry said. 

Terry believes every family deserves a Christmas and he hopes more people will drop a gift in one of their boxes. One can drop off unwrapped Toys in Toys for Tots boxes across the First Coast until Dec. 16. It is also not too late to volunteer. One can get involved until Dec. 23. 

Toys for Tots also collects monetary donations on its website. 

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