Local Christmas bureau low on toys, food as distribution time nears

Local Christmas bureau low on toys, food as distribution time nears


by TONY BURBECK / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @TonyWCNC


Posted on December 13, 2012 at 6:52 PM

Updated Thursday, Dec 13 at 7:00 PM

MONROE, N.C. -- The Union County Christmas Bureau, helping provide food and toys to needy families for Christmas, says it is low on certain supplies as the time for donations is almost over.

Time is of the essence because although Christmas is still a week-and-a-half away, toy and food distribution starts next Wednesday and ends next Friday.

The first impression looking the bureau is there are plenty of toys and food to go around. But, first impressions can be deceiving.

"The gifts just aren't coming in,” said organizer Gloria Haney with Union County Social Services.

Haney says as of Thursday most requests are filled, but they are still short on toys for 600 kids.  Overall, they are trying to provide four to five toys apiece to 5,000 kids.

There aren’t many toys for kids two years and younger or for teenage boys and girls. 

"If you look at it, it's truly something a teenager doesn't want for a Christmas gift,” Haney said while showing items on the table for girls 14 to 17 years old.

"All that's there is some socks, an old radio, some baseball cards, some puzzles--so there's not a lot here for them at all,” Haney said while showing items on the table for 14- to 17-year-old boys.

In all, 700 boxes of food are filled but they need 800 more.

Donations to Hurricane Sandy and people holding onto their money in the wake of the fiscal cliff have all come up as potential explanations why.

Haney thinks it's time and weather.

Christmas this year falls on a Tuesday, so people think they have an extra couple of days to donate toys.  But distribution ends next Friday and anything coming in after that will be too late.

Haney also says donations slump when it's warm because it doesn't feel like Christmas.

"Usually this time of year I pray for cold, slushy, nasty weather,” she said.   

Organizers also say two local Walmart stores wouldn't allow toy barrels because they clutter the store. The Walmart stores in Monroe and Indian Trail were the biggest sources of donated toys, Haney said.

The list of families needing help continues to grow, even though registration has ended.  The Christmas Bureau received 10 new applications from needy families while NBC Charlotte was there working on the story.
The good news is new donations came in shortly after that.

"This is my 13th Christmas.  There's always a period of time in that 13 years that I have had the same issues that I'm having right now and the community just always comes through, so I'm not worried--just have faith it's all going to happen,” Haney said.

Walmart says the Toys for Tots barrels were moved inside the store near seasonal merchandise.

They plan to move them back to the front of the stores, fill a couple of barrels at the two store locations, bring them to the Union County Christmas Bureau and assist any way they can.