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Toys for Tots scrambles to help more children in western Washington

The pandemic, supply chain issues and more demand for help is pushing groups to find more donations.

TUKWILA, Wash. — It's the final push for many nonprofit organizations like Toys for Tots that help with toy drives. 

The COVID-19 pandemic put a damper on efforts to help families last year and continues to cause problems this year. Supply chain issues are adding a new wrinkle to the situation, as many nonprofits say they’ve seen an increase in requests.

Representatives with Toys for Tots King County said their donations were so low in 2020 they couldn’t meet all 65,000 requests they received. It was daunting when they were hit with 130,000 requests for 2021.

Toys for Tots works with a network of 180 nonprofits that get the donations to the families, that's an increase from 2020. A team of Marines and volunteers help make it happen at a warehouse in Tukwila where they sort and distribute donations.

Gunnery Sgt. Edward Chapman's team has worked on this around the clock. 

“We've distributed over 2,000 boxes to hundreds of businesses in King County and they’re going to be returning them by Wednesday,” Chapman said.

They're putting those military skills to use in service for kids. A few days ago, they had four bikes. They worked to get the number close to 100 but say they would need hundreds more to get close to how many have been requested from local nonprofits.  

Supply chain problems are not making the situation easier.  

“Some people have ordered bikes and they're waiting to receive them. Hopefully, we can get them here by Wednesday,” Chapman said. 

They're also low on toys for babies and teens. 

The Johnson family dropped off donations at the warehouse Sunday.  

“We try to do service that's in their capacity so it's not always the big things, but little things like them picking out a toy for this,” Kristen Johnson said.

Each of the Johnson children picked a toy for a child their age, including fifth grader Sydney “

"We thought about what they would like and not just something for us,” Sydney said.

The push is on as they wait for those final boxes to return Wednesday. They Hope the bins have enough donations  to make their mission of love a success.

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