COVID-19 won’t stop Toys for Tots from making sure area children have Christmas presents this year. It will only change the way parents apply for assistance and pick up gifts.
Bruce O’Connell, coordinator for Toys for Tots in Carlisle, said clients this season are applying through the website instead of in person as they had in the past.
“They make the application online. They give us all the particulars,” he said. “We fill those orders to the best of our ability.”
Registrations for this year are still being taken at carlisle-pa.toysfortots.org.
O’Connell said applications for this year opened Oct. 1 and as of the end of last week, they had more than 800 children in the system.
“The applications are flowing in like crazy every day,” he said.
Pick-up will also look different. In the past, Toys for Tots had a single distribution day that was usually held on the last Saturday before Christmas. This year, the organization will hold distributions on four Saturdays leading up to the holiday with the first one coming noon to 3 p.m. on Nov. 7.
“This is new to us. We think we have all the bases covered. We’ll see,” O’Connell said.
Distribution will be handled as a drive through with clients driving in and giving the necessary information and volunteers delivering the packages to the car.
“It will be limited exposure between our volunteers and the clients,” O’Connell said.
Toys for Tots is also working out of a new location. Chapel Pointe donated a 14,000-square-foot facility to Toys for Tots on Noble Boulevard that will allow them to spread out, O’Connell said.
Boxes for toy donations are starting to be placed around the county, but O’Connell said the organization suspects donations won’t be as numerous as in the past due to the pandemic. One reason is that a number of the donation bins had previously been placed in office buildings. Now, many of those buildings are still closed as employees work from home.
O’Connell said people can make monetary donations or request a donation bin through the website. The organization is assessing the need for volunteers, but those interested in helping can contact Toys for Tots through the website.
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