WASHINGTON — The closure of Toys R Us is creating problems this year for charity Toys for Tots, which has relied on the chain for donations of money and toys.
Toys for Tots has struggled to fill the nearly $8 million hole left by the company that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September. For the last 14 years, Toys R Us has been a major contributor to the group that collects new toys and distributes them to needy children during the holidays.
The charity, run by the United States Marine Corps Reserve, raises millions of dollars in cash and toys annually, said Lt. Gen. Pete Osman, the President and CEO for the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation.
“When you lose $8 million like that at one swipe, it’s hard,” he said. “But fortunately several of the other corporate sponsors have stepped up.”
Hasbro and Disney have both agreed to give even more toys in years-past, but Toys for Tots is relying more on individual donors this year than in the past to fill the financial void.
The charity has grown from a small toy drive by one U.S. Marine Corps unit in 1947, to delivering toys to children in nearly 800 communities in all 50 states.
Despite the financial challenges, the charity hopes this year to reach over 60 percent more children in the D.C.-area than in previous toy drives, Osman said.
Toys for Tots has received great support this year from the First Lady Melania Trump and Mayor Muriel Bowser, but still needs help of kind individuals this holiday season.
“We really need the local donor to really get on board, and help shore up that campaign,” he said.
Those out shopping can drop off new toys at any D.C. fire station. Toys for Tots also accepts monetary donations on its website: www.toysfortots.org