Toys for Tots is one of the largest sources of toys for underprivileged kids in Mesa County. This year, however, the charity says it is facing massive shortages and needs the community's help.
It's a message Toys for Tots is not used to delivering this late i nthe holiday season.
"We really need toys for Christmas," said Greg Merschel, Toys For Tots Coordinator.
Merschel says in his twenty years of being with Toys for Tots in Mesa County, he has never seen things this bad. He says corporate layoffs and lead paint recalls this year have had a big impact on their success.
"We're looking at fifty-five hundred kids in Mesa County alone," said Merschel. "Right now we're less than fifty percent of where we need to be."
On Friday, the charity received some relief. The Grand Junction Firefighters Union and Wal-Mart teamed up and donated $4,000 worth of toys to the group.
Firefighters who unloaded the four hundred toys they helped purchase say they should have left the warehouse feeling uplifted. When they saw how few toys were inside, that wasn't the case.
"It was pretty disheartening to see that we pretty much doubled the amount of toys that were in that warehouse today," said Kevin Kuhlman, President of the Local 2808 Firefighters Union.
Kuhlman says these sad conditions should be enough to make others want to help.
"I think there are a lot of organizations within the city of Grand Junction and the surrounding areas that could pony up and donate some money on their own," said Kuhlman.
But Toys for Tots is running out of time. The plan is to start distributing toys to families in need on Wednesday. Even though they don't have toys right now, Merschel is confident the community will respond.
"I don't think Mesa County will allow the worst case scenario to happen," said Merschel.
Mesa County is not the only place where Toys for Tots is having a hard time. The shortage is affecting the group all over the country, and national Toys for Tots officials have issued a nationwide plea for help.
If you would like to contribute, you can drop off donations at several locations across the Grand Valley, including the 11 News station at 2325 Interstate Avenue.