IN NEED OF HELP Toys for Tots Santa Cruz County will still be in need of "elves" to help sort through thousands of donated toys. — Tarmo Hannula file

IN NEED OF HELP Toys for Tots Santa Cruz County will still be in need of "elves" to help sort through thousands of donated toys. — Tarmo Hannula file

This year, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, Toys For Tots will not be hosting public collection sites for toy donations for the first time in its history.

Normally, the collection points at fire stations and businesses throughout the county are responsible for the lion’s share of the thousands of toys needed for distribution to children whose families cannot afford them.

If the organization is unable to gather the toys through other non-traditional means, those kids could very well go without a gift this holiday season, said local Toys For Tots coordinator Delilah Valadez.

The organization has therefore established online gift registries with Amazon and Target. Donors can also give directly to the organization.

Each registry includes the address to which donors can directly ship their thoughtful gifts to make it in time for the holidays.

Additionally, the organization has set up a CrowdFunding app, where donors can create their own personal campaign with pictures and text outlining their goal for financial contributions. 

“With no collection sites to rely on this year, financial contributions are to be the foundation of this year’s success,” Valadez said. 

The organization will still rely on its team of volunteers to help sort toys, attach batteries and bundle books.

Volunteers will begin work the week before Thanksgiving to allow partnering agencies extra time to quarantine toys, but will finish up the campaign earlier than usual. They are scheduling “Elves” for Nov. 21 and 28, from 11am-2pm, and Nov. 30 and Dec. 7 from 3:30-8pm.

Volunteers interested in working two or more shifts can sign-up by emailing Valadez at T4T.SCrzCo@gmail.com or by visiting SantaCruzCounty.ToysForTots.org.

Families whose children need toys can register from Nov. 2-6 from 1:30-4pm at 214 Union St. in Watsonville. Photo ID is required for each adult, proof of address and income, and birth certificates for each child.

For information call 724-3922 or visit  https://watsonville.salvationarmy.org/watsonville_corps/

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